Results tagged ‘ Kevin Gregg ’

8/17 Closer by committee?

Expect a new closer on Tuesday. After Monday’s game, which the Cubs lost 4-1, Lou Piniella hinted that Kevin Gregg could be out.

“I think we’re going to make some changes as far as what we’re going to do in late innings,” Piniella said. “We’ll have some word [Tuesday].”

Gregg served up all four Padres’ runs in the ninth, including three on Kyle Banks’ walkoff homer.

“It [stunk],” Gregg said. “I wasn’t pitching. I went away from what I wanted to do and didn’t execute my pitches and it cost us the game.”

Possible candidates to take over the job include Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman and John Grabow. It’s been a tough stretch for Gregg, who saved 61 games the last two seasons combined for the Marlins. There were the back to back blown saves in Florida, with Gregg serving up home runs in both games. On Aug. 11, he gave up a game-winning homer to the Phillies’ Ben Francisco in the 12th inning and the Cubs took the loss.

“They all end the same way with a home run ball,” Piniella said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/5 Gregg's back

Kevin Gregg was available Wednesday night for the Cubs series finale vs. the Reds. The closer had been given two days off to rest what a tired arm.

Lou Piniella said he’ll sit down with Gregg and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to make sure that if the right-hander isn’t available, the manager knows.

“This is where you’ve got to be able to communicate and let somebody know,” Piniella said. “II ask every day who’s available, who isn’t, do we need to get somebody a rest. And if the answer is, ‘I feel good, I’m ready to go,’ that’s what I go on.

“If somebody has a little bit of a tired arm, just let somebody know and we’ll make arrangements and use somebody else,” Piniella said. “I have to know. I can’t just read somebody’s mind. I can look at the stuff, but by the time I look at the stuff, it’s a little late. The ball’s out of the ballpark and the mojito doesn’t taste as good.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/4 Closing time

Kevin Gregg will get Tuesday off as well from closing duties for the Cubs to rest a tired arm. Gregg said the problem was similar to what’s called a “dead arm” that most pitchers go through in Spring Training

“We all play with aches and pains and things like that,” Gregg said. “I’m giving it some good, heavy treatment for a couple days and see where that takes us.”

So, who’s the closer? On Monday, it was Carlos Marmol, but he threw 30 plus pitches. Angel Guzman would most likely get the call if the Cubs find themselves in a save situation.

As for B.J. Ryan, don’t expect to see him too soon. The left-hander walked two on Monday in a game with Triple-A Iowa and has not shown any improvement in velocity or command. He now has pitched in four games, walking five and striking out four.

— Carrie Muskat

8/3 Gregg has "tired arm;" Marmol to close Monday

If Kevin Gregg was asked, he would pitch Monday night. But Lou Piniella wants to give the Cubs closer a couple days off because of a tired arm. Gregg blew consecutive save opportunities Saturday and Sunday against the Marlins.

“I think we’ll give him a little time off tonight,” Piniella said prior to Monday’s game. “Hopefully, we can give him some time off tonight and tomorrow. He has a little bit of a tired arm. There’s no pain in any particular area but just achy. What I’m going to do is talk to him and if that’s the case, we can stay away from him. We’ve got to know it.”

Gregg was credited with the win Saturday as the Cubs rallied in the 10th for the win. Piniella checked with the closer before Sunday’s game, and again in the sixth before calling on Gregg for the ninth. The Marlins hit back to back homers off the right-hander for the 3-2 walkoff win.

“Closers take a lot of responsibility and they feel, and rightfully so, they can pitch through anything,” Piniella said. “Sometimes you have to be a little more realistic.”

Carlos Marmol would sub as the closer Monday.

Piniella was still recovering from Sunday’s loss.

“I dont know if I got my breath from that finish from yesterday,” he said. “The first [home run] took the air out of me and the second one, I needed a tank to get from the dugout to the clubhouse. That’s the quickest ending I’ve ever seen. That was good morning, good afternoon, good night. Unbelievable.”

The bullpen is a little overworked after the starters totaled 14 out of 28 innings vs. the Marlins. Will Carlos Zambrano be in the pen to help out?

“I haven’t talked to the ‘Z-man’ yet,” Piniella said.

The answer is probably no.

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Marshall law & more

Sean Marshall pitched another perfect inning on Thursday in the Cubs’ 12-3 win over the Astros, and extended his scoreless innings streak at home to 13 innings over 15 games. But he’s probably the happiest player on the flight to Florida because he’s getting some relief. With the addition of John Grabow, the Cubs added a veteran lefty who can handle late inning duties.

“It gives us options as a lefty, and a pretty good one,” Kevin Gregg said of Grabow. “He’s been around, he knows how to pitch late in games with the game on the line. It’ll be good for Sean to be able to take a breather every now and then. It seems like he’s been pitching every day. It’ll be nice to use each other to get some rest.”

Gregg has helped Marshall learn how to warm up in the bullpen. Relievers don’t need as many pitches as starters do.

“It’s a common mistake,” Gregg said of warm up routines. “I think when you first start in the bullpen, you don’t realize what it takes to get ready, especially for him. It’s a new aspect for him. A starter throws 30 or 40 pitches warming up. Some of us can throw 10 pitches before they get in a game.

“He’s taken to it well, and he gets ready real quick, if you watch him,” Gregg said.

Hart did the Cubs’ bullpen a favor by going six innings on Thursday.

“What he did today for us was that it put us all fresh,” Gregg said. “We’re all ready, we’re all 100 percent. We’re 100 percent in the bullpen now and to go on a road trip, that’s nice.”

* B.J. Ryan was to make his second Minor League outing on Thursday night for Triple-A Iowa. Ryan threw 11 pitches in one inning on Tuesday, and the radar guns registered 86-87 mph on his fastball.

“It’s way too early to tell when or if he’ll be ready to help us in the near future,” Cubs GM Jim Hendry said.

* No word yet on who will replace Hart in the rotation. The Cubs will need a starter on Tuesday in Cincinnati. Tom Gorzelanny, acquired in the five-player deal, could get the call. He last pitched on Monday for Triple-A Indianapolis, and gave up two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings.

* Mitch Atkins was optioned to Iowa after Thursday’s game. No corresponding move was made, but outfielder Sam Fuld was on the team charter to Florida and was expected to be activated before Friday’s game against the Marlins.

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Gregg, Ironman Hill & quick hits

The one Cubs reliever who did not pitch Monday and Tuesday was Kevin Gregg. The right-hander is fine; he had pitched in seven of the team’s first 10 games since the All-Star break.

“I think [Lou Piniella] was trying to give me a day off,” Gregg said. “It was kind of weird having a day off, actually.”

Gregg has saved three of the last six games, and picked up save No. 21 on Sunday against the Reds. This is his third consecutive 20-save season and he’s the first Cubs closer to total 20 saves in his first season with the Cubs since LaTroy Hawkins had 25 in 2004.

There are no histrionics with Gregg. He’s very even keel.

“You never want to get too high, you never want to get too low,” he said. “Our job is to get people out. You get people out, and you walk off the field. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. That’s why I go up there, to get people out. I’m not going to celebrate that. I’m also not going to beat myself up for giving up a run because it happens. I’ve never seen anybody go through a season without giving up a run.”

And what does he think of pitchers who do a lot of fist-pumping and gyrations after a save?

“I don’t like it,” he said. “To each his own. It kind of looks like garbage out there, personally. Everybody does their own thing.”

You might see a little fist pump, though, from Gregg.

“Maybe after a big play I might give it one of these [fist pump] if it was a good play,” he said. “You won’t see me strike out a guy and do a little dance out there.”

* Koyie Hill started his 19th straight game behind the plate on Wednesday, the longest stretch since Damon Berryhill caught 25 in a row from May 13-June 9, 1989. The ironman duties are no big deal to Hill, who began the year as backup to Geovany Soto.

“Randy Hundley started 161,” Hill said.

Actually, Hundley started 156 games for the Cubs in 1968, played in 160, and totaled 1,385 innings behind the plate. The backups that year were Randy Bobb, who started two games, and Bill Plummer, who did not start a game. Hill, by the way, entered Wednesday’s game with 909 2/3 innings at catcher in his career.

* Carlos Zambrano was wearing a neck wrap on Wednesday. The problem? “Bad sleep,” he said.

* Ron Santo was scheduled to go with the team to Florida and Cincinnati but will miss the third city on the trip, and not be in Denver for the series vs. Colorado.

* B.J. Ryan made his first appearance in relief on Tuesday and pitched one inning for Triple-A Iowa. He threw about 11 pitches, and his fastball registered about 86-87 mph.

— Carrie Muskat



7/5 Quick hits

Lou PIniella talked to hitting coach Von Joshua prior to Sunday’s game about making a minor tweak with Alfonso Soriano’s stance. If Soriano were to close his stance, it might help him put more weight on his back leg and get him to wait better at the plate.

“It’s up to the individual,” Piniella said. “The individual has to feel comfortable with it. We’ll see.”

The fans have shown their displeasure in Soriano’s at-bats lately at Wrigley.

“I don’t like to see our players get booed, I really don’t,” Piniella said. “I think it’s a defeating purpose. I can understand people getting frustrated but at the same time, it doesn’t serve any purpose. Boo the opposition as much as you want. Boo me — but let the players relax and let them play.”

Of course, when fans boo Piniella, it sounds a little like “Lou.”

“I’ve always used that in my whole career, obviously,” Piniella said.

* The Cubs have some decisions to make on Monday. Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman all are expected to be activated from the disabled list. Piniella says he hasn’t talked to GM Jim Hendry about the possibility of going with 11 pitchers. They’ll meet prior to Monday’s game against the Braves.

Ramirez will bat fourth behind Derrek Lee when he returns. Piniella cautioned that it’s not fair to think of the third baseman as the savior who will fix the team’s offensive struggles.

“He needs to do what he’s capable of doing, and no more,” Piniella said. “Like I said, don’t assume the role of Superman. I think he’s smart enough to stay away from that. It might be a few days after he gets some at-bats and starts feeling super comfortable at home plate. He’s been a professional his whole career. He’s going to help us, there’s no question about it.”

* Ron Santo took Sunday off, but will be back in the WGN Radio booth on Monday. Dave Otto filled in for Santo.

* The All-Star roster will be announced Sunday. Piniella said the Cubs have four players worthy of consideration, including Lee, Ted Lilly, Kevin Gregg and Ryan Theriot.

* Looking ahead to the Cubs’ series against the Cardinals, it’ll be Rich Harden on Friday, followed by Lilly on Saturday, and Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells in the day-night doubleheader July 12. Who pitches which game has yet to be determined.

— Carrie Muskat

6/24 Quick hits

Kevin Gregg’s blown save Tuesday was the 11th by a Cubs reliever this year. Lou Piniella isn’t happy, obviously, when his closers give up home runs.

“You don’t really like to see that our of your closer, to be honest,” Piniella said. “Usually when you give up ones like that, they end games.”

The Cubs pen is 15-for-26 in save situations, and Gregg is 11-for-14. But he’s still the Cubs closer.

“I didn’t say we were going to make any changes, I didn’t say we were contemplating making any changes,” Piniella said, “but I am saying, late in the game, you have to keep the ball in the ballpark if you want to have a lot of success in these shorter roles.”

He noted that when Carlos Marmol gets himself in trouble with his command, he’s usually able to work out of the mess.

“It’s not the easiest thing in the world to save a one-run game,” Piniella said.

* Jake Fox was back at third base Wednesday.

“We’re looking for offense any where we can get it,” Piniella said. “If we were scoring more runs, we probably wouldn’t be as liberal. We’ve got [Aramis] Ramirez coming back in a couple weeks. If Fox wants to make a statement to stay here for the rest of the summer, it’s OK with me.”

* Piniella on Kosuke Fukudome: “He needs to use the whole field to hit with, that’s what he needs to do to be successful,” Piniella said. “He hit one ball hard [Tuesday] night and that was to left field. It makes him stay on the ball longer, it gives him better plate coverage, it gives him better recognition of offspeed pitches.”

* Piniella was asked if it was easier to manage in the American League.

“You want to see how easy these jobs are, put on a uniform and try it,” Piniella said. “I think the manager is more involved without the DH. If you have a good set lineup in the American League and have pretty good hitting, you don’t have to worry too much from an offensive standpoint. The one danger in the American League with the DH is you can forget your bullpen sometimes and go too long with your starting pitching and sometimes the bullpen doesn’t get as much work. I think the manager is much more involved in the National League than the American League.”

— Carrie Muskat

Rude homecoming

Kerry Wood didn’t expect to pick up two blown save opportunities in his return to Chicago. The Indians closer took the loss Saturday in the Cubs’ 6-5, 13-inning win.

“You have mixed feelings about that,” Lou Piniella said about watching Wood. “Obviously, you’d like to beat the Cleveland club. Woody did a lot of nice things here in the two years I was here and for this organization in the past. Whoever is out there, we’re trying to win a baseball game.”

Said Ted Lilly: “Certainly, you don’t want to see that happen. Those two guys [Wood and Mark DeRosa] were a special part of our team the last couple years and you hope they have great healthy years. When we’re playing them, if they’re going to have a rough day it might as well be here.”

Derrek Lee hit a game-tying homer off Wood in the ninth inning on Friday. He watched as Wood took the loss Saturday.

“It’s tough, but that’s the life of a closer,” Lee said. “He’s out there with the game on the line. He’s either going to get all the praise or he’s the last guy getting the loss. He’s going to be fine. He’s definitely going to close out more of those than he loses.”

Kevin Gregg replaced Wood as the Cubs closer this year. He knows exactly what Wood is going through.

“We’re all baseball players, we all can relate,” Gregg said. “There’s a lot of pressure on him coming back here, coming to Chicago. That’s some weird stuff that’s happened to him the last couple days. He’s head strong, he’s going to be fine. He’ll put his nose down and get through it, I’m sure.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/17 Lineup & quick hits

Milton Bradley is back in the Cubs lineup after serving his one-game suspension. It’ll be LF Soriano, SS Theriot, CF Fukudome, 1B Lee, RF Bradley, C Soto, 3B Fontenot, 2B Scales and P Harden.

* Mike Fontenot is 0-for-13 in his last four games. Lou Piniella may talk to the infielder. “It’s a bigger adjustment than people think it is, especially at the big league level,” Piniella said about adjusting to being an everyday player. “Sometimes you start thinking a little too much. Most of the time, it’s the wrong thing to do.”

* Carlos Zambrano gave up two runs in the first inning in his rehab start Sunday for Class A Daytona in Dunedin, Fla. If all goes well, Zambrano will return to the Cubs rotation on Friday in San Diego. Don’t expect a complete game — more like six innings.

* Kevin Gregg’s hand was fine after he was hit by Hunter Pence’s single. “If we get in a save situation — assuming the trainer gives his OK — we’ll go with him today,” Piniella said.

Asked if he’d want to get Gregg into a game quickly after Saturday’s implosion when he gave up four runs, Piniella hesitated. “I’m not sure,” he said. Piniella was joking.

“We’ve got our plan set and barring an injury, we’re going to stay the way we are,” Piniella said. “We talked a week or 10 days ago about concentrating on putting a good bullpen together and we’re going to do that.”

— Carrie Muskat