Results tagged ‘ Kevin Gregg ’

7/30 Samardzija rumors “far fetched”

The Trade Deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT, and manager Dale Sveum doesn’t expect Jeff Samardzija to be doing anything but prepping for his next start with the Cubs. Rumors continue to swirl about the Cubs listening to offers for Samardzija.

“If somebody asks, sure,” Sveum said on whether the Cubs were keeping an open mind. “That’s not my job, so I don’t know what goes in those kind of meetings. It’s not realistic [to deal Samardzija].”

The Cubs would have to be offered a lot to part with the 28-year-old right-hander who is under team control for two more years.

“This is me speaking, but I would think it’s very, very far-fetched to think that you have a guy under control for that long and possibly a No. 1 guy to do anything with him,” Sveum said. “Those are things that pop up and somebody will say, sure you’ll listen. But are you going to want to trade half your team [to get Samardzija]?”

Meanwhile, Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz wait to see if they will stay with the Cubs past the deadline.

“It is a compliment to be rumored,” Sveum said. “Some people get to be part of a pennant race and get to the playoffs and do some fun things.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Early extra bases

Early notes before Sunday’s game:

* The Cubs are 25-29 on the road through 54 games after going 23-58 on the road all last season.

* Including a series win this weekend in San Francisco, the Cubs are 3-1-3 in their last seven series. They will try for their first series sweep in San Francisco since Sept. 13-15, 1993

* Alfonso Soriano was the last player remaining from the 2007 Cubs team that won the NL Central. Jeff Samardzija is the only player remaining from the ’08 team that won 97 games. Samardzija is the only player on the roster to have made his Cubs debut prior to 2010 (not including Kevin Gregg, who departed after 2009 and returned in 2013).

* Only five players on the current 25-man roster were on the 2012 Opening Day roster: Luis Valbuena, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, James Russell and Samardzija.

* Nearly half of the players on the current 25-man roster (12) have joined the Cubs since the end of the 2012 campaign.

* Also, 10 players on the current 25-man roster were not on the Cubs 2013 Opening Day roster: pitchers Chris Rusin, Pedro Strop, Blake Parker, Matt Guerrier, Kevin Gregg and Eduardo Sanchez; infielder Cody Ransom; and outfielders Cole Gillespie, Pedro Borbon and Junior Lake.

7/12 Theo: “There’s a lot of chatter”

With the Trade Deadline on July 31, Theo Epstein is getting plenty of phone calls from teams interested in Cubs players. Matt Garza is high on some team’s lists, as well as relievers Kevin Gregg and James Russell and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

Garza is considered the best starting pitcher on the market.

“Obviously, he’s throwing extremely well and he’s very healthy and there are teams out there looking for pitching who are going to call and try to acquire him,” Epstein said Friday. “For us, he’s helping us win games now, there’s a chance to possibly retain him beyond this year, so we’ll just balance all that out and do what’s best for the organization.”

It is a busy time of the season.

“There’s a lot of chatter going on right now,” Epstein said. “I wouldn’t say anything major is imminent. There’s a lot of talk, and we’ll continue to stay abreast with what other teams are trying to do as their situation changes.”

This is the second year the Cubs have been sellers. That’s not a position Epstein wants to be in.

“We wanted to be buyers this year,” he said. “With a few breaks, this year, we could’ve been in a much different situation. If some one-run games early change, and different bullpen situations [it could’ve been different]. The goal every year is to be in a position where you’re looking to add and have a strong pennant push.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/2 Scouting report

Cubs closer Kevin Gregg was a teammate of Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop last year with the Orioles, and was with Matt Guerrier on the Dodgers in Spring Training. When he heard that the Cubs had acquired Arrieta and Strop on Tuesday, he was surprised.

“I couldn’t believe when I heard it, that we got both Arrieta and Pedro,” Gregg said Tuesday. “That’s two big pickoffs. Stuff-wise, you’re looking at two good arms.”

The Cubs sent Scott Feldman to the Orioles for Arrieta and Strop, and dealt Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers for Guerrier. Strop and Guerrier were expected to join the team and be in the bullpen on Wednesday, while Arrieta will go to Triple-A Iowa.

“Strop had a great year last year, and was part of the best bullpen in baseball,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “This year has not been going so good. I guess he was on the [disabled list] with back problems. We’re getting a power arm. Guerrier will be a guy you can use in multiple roles, like [Carlos] Villanueva is for us now.”

Gregg said both Arrieta and Strop have good arms and a good mix of pitches.

“Pedro is a great bullpen guy,” Gregg said. “He had an outstanding year last year and just got in a funk this year. I think it’ll be good to get him here and get him pitching. He needs to pitch more to be successful.”

In 2012, Strop compiled a 2.44 ERA in a career-high 70 games, striking out 58 over 66 1/3 innings. He has a 7.25 ERA in 29 games this season with the Orioles. Maybe the right-hander needs a change of scenery?

“It could be good for him,” Gregg said of Strop. “He left Texas and came to Baltimore and did outstanding, and then got in a funk again. When he came to Baltimore, we weren’t winning, and he got in a groove and ran with it. He had a couple rough outings and got pushed to the side a little. I’m excited. It’s a great pickup for the Cubs.”

Gregg, who in the Dodgers camp this spring, also talked to Guerrier about his role. The newest Cubs pitcher had a 4.80 ERA in 34 appearances with the Dodgers.

“He’s a solid reliever who has been there, done that,” Gregg said of the right-hander. “The change of scenery could help him, too. We talked a little in Spring Training because he was under the microscope in spring with the situation the way it was there.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Chance of trade: 50-50

Asked if he expected the Cubs to make a deal before the All-Star break, Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations said Sunday the chances are “50-50.”

“Judging by the amount of calls that are going on, I would say the number of pieces we potentially have available and the opportunities that might present themselves for us to get better, yeah, I’d say 50-50,” Epstein said.

Matt Garza and Scott Feldman are drawing interest for teams looking for another starter, while teams also have inquired about closer Kevin Gregg, who blew his first save opportunity in 13 opportunities on Saturday. The interest — and rumors — will continue up until the July 31 Trade Deadline.

There also have been reports that teams are inquiring about Nate Schierholtz but Epstein may be hard pressed to part with the outfielder, who has moved into the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

“He’s exceeded our expectations with the overall quality at-bats,” Epstein said of Schierholtz. “To hit him in the three-hole, he does a nice job. He can handle different kinds of pitching, give you a tough at-bat. He’s a threat to go deep if they make a mistake, runs the bases well, he’s been really reliable defensively. He’s done a nice job.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Cubs 5, Mariners 3 (11 innings)

For the second straight game, the bullpen imploded, but this time the Cubs overcame the breakdown and may have found a new closer candidate. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning to beat the pesky Mariners, 5-3, on Saturday night, with Blake Parker picking up his first Major League save.
With the game tied at 3 in the 11th, Nate Schierholtz reached on a bunt single against Oliver Perez, and Soriano followed with his ninth home run. Soriano also hit a RBI single in the sixth, is now batting .386 in 25 career games as the designated hitter with nine home runs and 24 RBIs.

“The DH thing is working,” Dale Sveum said. “A couple days off hopefully helped him get to that form he was doing this time last year when he took off, too.”

Perez struck Soriano out in the ninth inning on Friday in the Mariners’ 5-4, 10-inning victory. Saturday was different. Perez threw two fastballs, then a breaking ball.

“When I saw the breaking ball, it gave me more confidence at home plate,” Soriano said. “I wanted to try to swing at a strike and make good contact, and he threw me a fastball in the middle and I had a good swing.”

At 37, Soriano may be a better suited to be a designated hitter. His name was bantered about last year prior to the Trade Deadline.

“Who knows? I just come to the ballpark every day and just try to do my job,” Soriano said. “I don’t want to put anything in my mind. The last couple years, always trade rumors and nothing happens. I just want to focus day by day and see what happens.”

The Cubs were wearing replica uniforms from the 1909 season, when they won 104 games under manager Frank Chance and finished second in the National League. That year, they were coming off their second straight World Championship, which, at this point, is the last one. They could’ve used Mordecai Brown on Saturday.

Seattle trailed 3-2 in the ninth and rallied with one out against Kevin Gregg as Henry Blanco walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Michael Saunders, who moved up on Nick Franklin’s groundout. Endy Chavez then lined a single to center to tie the game. It was Gregg’s first blown save in 13 opportunities.

“I got the ball up a little bit and he fought it off to get it over second base,” Gregg said of Chavez.

“It wasn’t the greatest pitch selection,” Sveum said.

That left Parker, who totaled seven saves at Triple-A Iowa this year. He had pitched 1 1/3 innings on Friday, but looked fresh and retired the side in order.

“He showed me a lot today,” Sveum said of the right-hander. “That’s a nice asset to know it wasn’t a deer in the headlights in that situation in the big leagues.”

“It’s a position I’m comfortable in for sure,” Parker said. “Going out there in tight situations is where any competitor wants to be. When it’s a close game and for all the marbles and everything’s on the line, usually that’s when most people are at their best. Gregg’s done a great job all year and I’ll go out and compete no matter what role I’m in.”

Before the game, Sveum hinted he may turn to Parker, who admitted he’s still learning how to pitch in the big leagues.

“You’re expected to pitch every day and that’s the approach I took and I got myself ready to pitch and I was ready when my number was called,” Parker said.

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Post-game notes

* The Cubs have 247 extra-base hits, second most in the NL behind the Rockies.

* Cubs pitchers have 46 quality starts, fourth-most in the NL.

* Scott Feldman picked up his 500th career strikeout when he fanned Jonathan Lucroy in the third. Nine of his 12 starts have been quality starts.

* Kevin Gregg is now 12-for-12 in save opportunities.

* Anthony Rizzo had a double, a single, a walk and two RBIs. This year, 36 of his 72 hits have gone for extra bases, and his 22 doubles rank among the NL leaders.

6/25 Marmol “sideshow” is over

Carlos Marmol was designated for assignment on Tuesday after the team decided it had enough. GM Jed Hoyer said they have tried to deal Marmol since last August but no takers. The right-hander compiled a 1.52 ERA after the All-Star break in 2012, and opened this year as the closer but lost the job after struggling in the first week. On June 16, he blew a three-run lead in the ninth against the Mets that resulted in a 4-3 loss, made one more appearance last Thursday against the Cardinals, in which he was efficient, throwing 11 pitches (nine strikes), and that was it.

“He had a really good second half last year, and no one bid at the August deadline, and we didn’t have any offers other than someone else’s undesirable contract for ours,” Hoyer said. “There was a lot of talk about trade value and things like that, but that something we’d given up on long ago.

“He did provide value for us pitching in the middle of the game,” Hoyer said. “He had struggles that frustrated people at the end of the game. We held out on this move for a long time in part because with his salary, he was providing solid innings in the sixth and seventh. The decision really came down to it had become a distraction. It became hard to pitch as well as he could because every time he threw two balls, he’d get booed, and I don’t think that’s easy for anybody.

“I think it became difficult for his teammates because there was a little bit of a sideshow mentality to it,” Hoyer said. “We felt it was the right time. It had become a distraction and he wasn’t able to pitch late in the game for us. That was really the decision.”

Dale Sveum said Marmol handled the news Tuesday morning professionally and thanked the Cubs.

Kevin Gregg, who is 11-for-11 in save situations since taking over the job, said he hoped Marmol could find another team.

“He was kind of beating his head against the wall here,” Gregg said of Marmol. “The chance to get that fresh start, I think, will be good for him. He’s a great guy, a stand-up guy. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s great with fans. You always see him signing autographs, you always see him interacting with everybody. It’s part of the game. It’s unfortunate. I think he’ll be able to turn the corner and get his feet underneath him.”

In a strange twist, Marmol had replaced Gregg as the Cubs closer in 2009, and now they’ve switched places.

“I could sympathize with him,” Gregg said. “It’s a tough position to be in. When I was in Baltimore last year, it was the same thing for me. Getting my feet underneath me and a fresh start was all I needed.”

Gregg, who began this season with the Dodgers, then was released because they didn’t have a roster opening, knows only too well the roller coaster ride closers go on.

“We do our job and nobody says anything; we don’t do our job, and everyone puts you under a microscope,” he said.

This season, Marmol was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA in 31 games, and 2-for-5 in save opportunities. Win or lose, save or not, he was always present in the clubhouse to answer questions post-game.

“The guy gave four really, really good seasons to the Cubs,” Hoyer said. “It kind of bums me out when I read some of the comments people make about his career in Chicago because they forget how dominant he was for four years. Frankly, I feel a lot of his ineffectiveness now is related to the fact that he was ridden so hard when he was at his best.

“He gave a lot to the Cubs and had a really good Cubs career,” Hoyer said.

The Cubs now have 10 days to either place Marmol on waviers, release him or trade him. Gregg is hoping Marmol finds a new team.

“I’m excited for him,” Gregg said. “I think it’s what he needed. He wanted to do it here. I think this is going to be good for him. As a friend, I think this is his chance to step back and look at himself in the mirror and say, ‘I can still do this’ and that little breath of fresh air will help him out.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/22 Extra bases

* David DeJesus says he’s making progress in his rehab from a sprained shoulder suffered in a crash into the outfield wall at Citi Field. He collided with the center field wall June 14 trying to catch a ball, but ended up with a sprained right shoulder, and was placed on the disabled list the next day. He’s replayed the video of his crash a few times. He also was happy to not need surgery after the freak accident.

“It’s going to take it’s time to heal,” DeJesus said. “When it starts getting better, we’ll move into baseball stuff. Right now, we’re getting more movement and it’s a positive thing. It’s progressing the right way.”

Could he return before the All-Star break?

“We’re not putting a timetable on anything,” DeJesus said. “We’ll see how it goes. It’s tough just sitting here watching the games. I understand it’s a process and I don’t want to go out there and get back on the [disabled list] again. I want it to be healthy enough to go hard and get back out there and grind the rest of the season out with the guys.”

* The Cubs will likely make a roster move prior to the start of a six-game road stretch against American League teams. Chicago will play in Seattle and in Oakland, starting Tuesday. The Cubs are currently carrying eight relievers, and were expected to add another position player before the trip west.

* Kevin Gregg has 11 straight successful save chances to begin the season, the second-longest for a Cubs reliever, surpassed only by Randy Myers, who saved his first 13 chances to open the 1993 campaign.

* A group of 24 kids, ages 7-14, will participate Sunday in the Chicago Cubs championship of the 2013 MLB Pitch, Hit and Run (PHR) program presented by Scotts, at Wrigley Field. The top three scores in each age and gender group out of all 30 MLB Team Championships will advance to the PHR National Finals held at Citi Field in New York City during MLB All-Star Week. Pitch, Hit and Run provides youth with the chance to demonstrate their skills and advance through four levels of competition, beginning at the local level.

— Carrie Muskat

6/19 About last night …

Some notes from Tuesday’s win:

* Jeff Samardzija is the first Cubs pitcher to throw 8 1/3 innings or more against the Cardinals since Carlos Zambrano went nine innings on Sept. 18, 2005.

* Nate Schierholtz extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with a double in the first.

* Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom hit back to back home runs in the first, the third time the Cubs have hit consecutive homers this season, and first since Scott Hairston and Ransom did so in April against the Padres.

* Ransom’s homer was his first off a right-handed pitcher this season. He also collected his 100th career RBIs.

* Kevin Gregg is 10-for-10 in save situations.