Results tagged ‘ Kevin Gregg ’

5/8 Gregg now closer

The Cubs are no longer going with a closer by committee. Kevin Gregg has won the job. Gregg is 5-for-5 in save situations since he joined the Cubs April 15. The right-hander was in the Dodgers’ Spring Training camp, then released on April 3. He signed with the Cubs on April 14.

“The problems we had, it was a great, great pickup and he’s ran with it, and done a heck of a job,” Dale Sveum said of Gregg, who has replaced Carlos Marmol, who was replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa. “[Gregg] is a veteran guy who doesn’t panic. He’s been in those situations before. Those last three outs aren’t made for everybody. He throws strikes and has some life on his fastball. He can work both sides of the plate, that’s the good thing about it.”

Marmol began the season as the Cubs closer but was removed after the first week of games. Fujikawa took over, but then went on the disabled list April 13 with a strained right forearm. Fujikawa was to make his second Minor League rehab outing on Wednesday and rejoin the Cubs in Washington this weekend.

So, is Gregg the Cubs’ closer?

“He seems to be,” Sveum said. “Gregg’s our closer. That’s pretty much the way it is right now. He’s obviously earned it and there’s a bigger sample out there now to know that.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/29 Extra bases

* Dale Sveum doesn’t give the Cubs relievers a heads up before the game to let them know who the designated closer is that day. He’s sticking with the best matchup.

“It’s been working,” Sveum said Monday. “I’m not going to say it’s a fix-all and that you don’t want to name a closer. You definitely don’t want to rock the boat when things are going good in the back of the bullpen when everybody is healthy and ready to go that night. It could be one of four guys. It depends on the matchups.”

The four include Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Shawn Camp and James Russell.

“After the fifth inning, everybody in that bullpen is on call at any time, depending on how we want to use it in the matchups,” Sveum said.

How does Gregg feel about that?

“There’s pros and cons to both ways,” Gregg said about picking one pitcher and using a closer by committee approach. “You name a closer and you definitely allow guys to slide into a position where they’re comfortable and know what they’re preparing for. Sometimes that backfires on some guys. That knowing [they’re the one], the anxiety gets to them a little bit.”

Even if Sveum tells the pitchers that they’ll be called on late in the game, some prefer more specific instructions.

“Late in the game in the seventh inning and late in the game in the ninth inning are two different animals,” Gregg said. “You have to know what guys are comfortable with, what situations they’ll be successful in.”

* Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session Monday, his first since going on the disabled list April 13, and will do so again before he makes a Minor League rehab outing. Fujikawa, sidelined with a strained right forearm, was expected to join Triple-A Iowa on Sunday if all goes well.

“Things didn’t go real crisp today,” Sveum said of the session. “Everything was fine and he felt great and everything, but the location wasn’t where we wanted it to be.”

* Scott Baker, coming back from Tommy John surgery one year ago, resumed his throwing program on Monday in Mesa, Ariz. Baker threw from about 45 feet.

* Matt Garza, on the disabled list with a strained left lat, was to start Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee, which would be his second Minor League rehab outing. He will make at least three such starts.

* Catcher Steve Clevenger, on the DL with a strained left oblique, was able to catch two bullpen sessions on Monday and is throwing from 120-130 feet. He expected to start swinging a bat early next week.

– Carrie Muskat

4/28 Extra bases

* With Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Marlins, all of 24 of the Cubs’ games this season have been decided by four runs or less, a franchise record. The previous club record of 21 games to start a season with all contests decided by four runs or less took place 105 years ago in 1908.

The 24 game stretch is tied with the 1918 Cardinals for second longest in baseball. According to Elias, the only team to open the season with a longer streak was the 1914 Tigers (33 games decided by four runs or less).

* The Cubs have had three pitchers record multiple saves thus far this season: Kevin Gregg (three), Kyuji Fujikawa (two) and Carlos Marmol (two). In 45 Aprils since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969, this is the first time the Cubs have had three pitchers with multiple saves in the season’s first calendar month.

* Anthony Rizzo has now tallied 19 RBI in April, second most by a Cubs left-handed hitter. He passed Rick Monday, who drove in 18 in April 1976. Billy Williams drove in 25 runs in April 1970.

* On Monday, the Cubs start a 10-day, 10-game homestand against the Padres (four games), the Reds (three games), the Rangers (one make-up game, May 6) and the Cardinals (two games). The Cubs lost Sunday to end their 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record. So far this season, the Cubs are 5-2 against clubs that finished below .500 last season and 4-13 (.235) against winning clubs from last year.

4/24 Extra bases

Dale Sveum will still rely on the best matchup in determining his closer. On Tuesday, Kevin Gregg picked up the save, and is one of the options. So is Carlos Marmol, who lost the job after the first week of the season.

“I didn’t say [Marmol] would not be the closer,” Sveum said Wednesday. “I said it would come down to matchups.”

Gregg’s save was his first since 2011.

“Today was an awesome feeling,” Gregg said after Tuesday’s game. “I really enjoy that. That’s a lot of weight on your shoulders when you’re out there making pitches in that situation. I love that pressure, I love what comes with it, of what comes from being able to carry home a victory for the team.”

* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, is throwing from 135 feet on flat ground, and has yet to throw a bullpen session. He is doing his rehab in Chicago.

* Ian Stewart was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Tuesday in a rehab start for Triple-A Iowa. Stewart is coming back from a strained left quad, suffered Feb. 21 in an intrasquad game. In seven games, he’s 2-for-24 with a double and three RBIs.

* Alfonso Soriano singled and stole two bases in the second inning on Tuesday night, but after swiping third, the Cubs veteran took a brief time out.

“I was fine,” Soriano said Wednesday. “I steal second and third on two pitches, and at age 37, I think I need a little time. Thank God, I’m feeling good. At 37, I needed extra time. I took my extra time to breathe. I can’t remember the last time I had two sprints like that.”

The last time was August 2008. Soriano stole two bases in one inning twice that month, the last one on Aug. 25 that year against the Pirates. Don’t expect him to be putting together another 40-stolen base season, though.

“I feel good in my legs,” Soriano said. “If I have a chance to steal the base, I’m going to try to do it to make the game easier for my teammates and try to score some runs. We have a very good team. I want to try to take what they give me. If they give me a stolen base, I’ll take a stolen base.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/23 Extra bases

* Cody Ransom made the most of his Cubs debut. He homered on the first pitch he saw, and is the first Cubs player to hit a home run in his first at-bat since Starlin Castro did so on May 7, 2010, also in Cincinnati. Ransom also homered in his first at-bat with the Yankees in 2008.

* Carlos Villanueva now has a 1.53 ERA in four starts, and has four quality starts.

* Starlin Castro’s 14-game hitting streak came to an end. He went 0-for-4.

* Dave Sappelt, Alfonso Soriano and Julio Borbon each stole a base for the Cubs, and finished with four as Soriano swiped two in one inning. The four stolen bases by the team is a season high.

* Kevin Gregg picked up his first save since Sept. 24, 2011.

4/16 Cubs roster moves

The Cubs made several roster moves Tuesday. Brent Lillibridge and Hisanori Takahashi were both designated for assignment, and the Cubs claimed Cody Ransom off waivers. Kevin Gregg and Kameron Loe will both be in the bullpen Tuesday, taking the place of Takahashi and Rafael Dolis, who was optioned to Iowa on Sunday.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer made the announcement, saying they wanted more experience at the end of the bullpen. Takahashi was considered more of a long man. Loe also gives the Cubs a sinkerball style of pitcher which they didn’t have.

Officially, Loe was added to the roster, Gregg selected, for those keeping track.

Ransom, 37, can help at third base. A career .215 hitter, he also can backup at short if needed.

“Even when [Ian] Stewart comes back, we need someone who can hit right-handed [pitching],” Hoyer said of Ransom. “He’s a good athlete, can play a little bit of shortstop and has had success in his past hitting left-handed pitching.”

Lillibridge was 1-for-24 so far, and Hoyer said it’s too small a sample to judge.

“If you start making decisions based on 12 games, then you’re probably making a lot of bad decisions,” Hoyer said. “We felt the versatility and defense Ransom brings, it’s an upgrade.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/14 Cubs sign Gregg

The Cubs have signed right-handed pitcher Kevin Gregg to a Minor League deal. Gregg, 34, Was released earlier this year by the Dodgers. The right-hander did pitch for the Cubs in 2009, totaling 23 saves and a 4.72 ERA. In 10 seasons, he has played for the Angels, Marlins, Cubs, Blue Jays and Orioles, and has a career 4.13 ERA, 28-38 record and 144 saves. Gregg signed a Minor League deal with the Dodgers in February but was released April 3. He will report to extended Spring Training in Mesa. This spring with the Dodgers, Gregg appeared in 11 games, and gave up one run on three hits over 11 innings, striking out five. He did not walk a batter.

– Carrie Muskat

12/1 Arbitration update

As expected, the Cubs did not offer arbitration to Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Reed Johnson and Chad Fox by Tuesday’s deadline.

By not offering arbitration, the Cubs will not receive any compensation in the Draft if another team signs Gregg or Harden. The Elias Sports Bureau classified Gregg as a Type A free agent, which means if Chicago had offered him arbitration and another club signed him, the Cubs would’ve received two Draft picks as compensation.

Gregg, 31, lost his job as the Cubs’ closer in mid August to Carlos Marmol.

Harden, who turned 28 Monday, was classified as a Type B free agent, and the Cubs would’ve picked up a supplemental Draft pick if the right-hander was offered arbitration, declined, and then signed with another team.

He made 26 starts, his second-highest total since he made 31 in 2004 with Oakland. Harden did make 25 starts combined in 2008 with the Cubs and Athletics.

The Cubs’ rotation now includes Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and Ted Lilly, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in early November. The fifth starter can come from a pool that includes Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, and Sean Marshall among others in the system.

If offered arbitration, and the players accepted, the Cubs would’ve been obligated for at least a one-year contract and the players would’ve been in line for a raise. Gregg made $4.2 million in 2009, Harden $7 million and Johnson $3 million.

New Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has said the payroll will only go up “slightly” in 2010, and the Cubs have to factor in raises to arbitration eligible players such as Marmol, Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Baker. Those players are affected by the non-tender deadline of Dec. 12, which is when teams must decide whether to tender a contract. Those players have less than six years of service time and they are under team control for 2010.

Johnson and Fox were free agents, and neither was included on the Type A or B lists. Fox appeared in two games before being sidelined because of inflammation in his right elbow. Johnson, who turns 33 on Dec. 8, was limited to 65 games because of injuries.

The Cubs are in the market for a center fielder and could still re-sign Johnson but if they did offer arbitration, they ran the risk of him getting a significant raise.

– Carrie Muskat

11/29 Looking ahead …

The Cubs were not expected to offer arbitration to Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Reed Johnson and Chad Fox by Tuesday’s deadline.

A brief explanation (and I’ll try to keep it simple): Teams that offer their free agents salary arbitration get Draft picks in return if the player signs elsewhere, and the number of picks is based on the player’s rating. To get compensation, a team must offer arbitration to its Type A or B free agent and have that player either reject arbitration or sign before the deadline to reject the said arbitration.

The Elias Sports Bureau determines the designations based on statistical study. Gregg is a Type A free agent, Harden is Type B. Johnson and Fox are non-compensatory. So, if the Cubs did offer arbitration to Gregg and another team signed him, the Cubs could get two Draft picks. One would be a first-round pick from the signing team (if the team’s pick is below the first 15 picks in the Draft) and a supplemental pick. The supplemental pick is a player taken between the first and second rounds.

If the signing team has a pick in the first 15 slots, the team that loses the free agent will get the signing team’s second-round selection and the sandwich pick.A Type B free agent like Harden would be worth one Draft pick to the Cubs if he signs with another team. That pick is a supplemental pick.

Teams that do not offer salary arbitration to free agents who sign elsewhere get nothing in return.

Last year, the Cubs declined to offer arbitration to Kerry Wood, who then signed with the Cleveland Indians.

The upside for a team that does offer arbitration is the additional Draft pick or two. But if the Cubs did offer arbitration to Gregg or Harden, they also would be on the hook for at least a one-year contract at market value, which would likely be an increase from what the player earned the previous season if an offer is accepted. Gregg earned $4.2 million this year, Harden $7 million.

Gregg lost the closer’s job in mid August to Carlos Marmol and the Cubs feel they have enough starting pitching to make up for Harden’s expected exit. GM Jim Hendry has other positions to fill (center field, for example) and a budget.

If the players were offered arbitration, they would have until 10:59 p.m. CT on Dec. 7 to accept and can still negotiate with their former teams, even if they decline the offer. If the player accepts arbitration, the two sides can negotiate a deal but will go before an arbitrator if no agreement is reached.

We’ll get official word on Tuesday.

– Carrie Muskat

11/23 Reed Johnson update

Reed Johnson has had an eventful offseason already. The outfielder and his wife, Taryn, welcomed son Tyce into the world on Oct. 26.

Johnson is one of five Cubs players who filed for free agency, joining John Grabow, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, and Chad Fox. The team narrowed the list last Friday when it signed Grabow to a two-year deal. The Cubs had an exclusive 15-day window in which to negotiate with Johnson end on Friday, and he said he hasn’t heard much from the team about returning.

“There’s other things they’re trying to take care of,” Johnson said Monday. “My agent said usually teams let that 15-day period go past.”

Johnson would like to come back, and the Cubs are looking for a center fielder and leadoff man.

“We’ll see,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

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