Results tagged ‘ Mat Gamel ’

12/3 Gamel seeks fresh start

Mat Gamel was looking forward to playing for the Cubs. When I talked to him in October in Mesa, Ariz., shortly after he joined the team, Gamel said he was finally healthy after re-tearing his right ACL in Spring Training.

“I think it’ll be good for me,” Gamel said in October about the change of scenery. “I’ve been with the Brewers for eight years. I don’t know any other organization. Maybe this will be a fresh start.”

Gamel, though, was non-tendered on Monday by the Cubs. He is now a free agent and could re-sign with the team but it would have to be a Minor League contract.

— Carrie Muskat

12/2 Roster moves

The Cubs signed infielder Donnie Murphy and catcher George Kottaras to one-year contracts on Monday, and tendered contracts to seven arbitration eligible players, including Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood. The Cubs non-tendered relievers Daniel Bard and Chang-Yong Lim as well as infielder Mat Gamel, who are now free agents. Lim was not eligible for arbitration.

Besides Barney, Samardzija and Wood, the other arbitration-eligible players tendered 2014 contracts include pitchers Pedro Strop and James Russell; infielder Luis Valbuena; and outfielder Nate Schierholtz. A total of 28 players from the Cubs’ 40-man roster were tendered 2014 contracts, including 21 not yet eligible for arbitration.

With all the moves, the Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 37 players.

Murphy, 30, who was arbitration eligible, agreed to terms on a $825,000 deal. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa, where he batted .265. In 46 games with the Cubs, Murphy batted .255 and hit 11 home runs.

Kottaras, who also was arbitration eligible, signed a one-year, $1.075 million contract that includes incentives. Acquired last Tuesday from the Royals in a trade for cash considerations, Kottaras made $1 million last season. He is projected to back up Welington Castillo behind the plate.

According to, Samardzija is projected to get $4.9 million in 2014, while Schierholtz is projected to get $4.4 million; Wood $3.6 million; Barney $2.1 million; Russell $1.7 million; Valbuena $1.5 million; and Strop $1 million.

The Cubs already have committed $49 million to six players for 2014 and will be paying $14 million to the Yankees to cover the last year of Alfonso Soriano’s contract.

The Cubs are keeping an eye on the now expanded list of free agents. Last year, they signed Schierholtz after he was non-tendered by the Phillies, and the outfielder became a regular in right field. Schierholtz set career highs in home runs (21), doubles (32) and RBIs (68), and led the team with a .259 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Bard, once a dominant set-up pitcher with the Red Sox, was claimed off waivers in September. At that time, Theo Epstein, who knew Bard from his Boston days, said the Cubs were committed to the right-hander for the long haul. Bard had struggled after the Red Sox tried to convert him to a starter and battled a strained abdominal muscle this season.

When he joined the Cubs, Bard did not get into a game but worked on the side with pitching coach Chris Bosio. They videotaped the sessions, even though Bard was unaware of the cameras as the Cubs hid one in the ivy and another in a door at Wrigley Field.

Bard, 28, appeared in three games in Puerto Rico last month, but retired only one of the 13 batters he faced. He walked nine, hit three batters, and threw four wild pitches in those outings. The Cubs could still re-sign Bard, who made $1.8625 million this year.

Gamel, 28, sidelined most of this season because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, was acquired off waivers from the Brewers in early October. Lim, 37, signed as a free agent with the Cubs, and appeared in six games in September.

— Carrie Muskat

10/7 Extra bases from Mesa, AZ

* Monday was a big day for Kyuji Fujikawa. The right-hander, who was limited to 12 games with the Cubs because of arm problems that eventually resulted in Tommy John surgery on his elbow, threw a baseball for about five minutes Monday at Fitch Park in Mesa. It may not sound like much, but it was another step in his rehab. He had been able to play catch with a tennis ball, but Monday was the first time he was allowed to throw a baseball. Fujikawa has spent the summer in Mesa rehabbing three to four hours a day. Even though most pitchers need two years to recover from the surgery, Fujikawa said his goal is to be ready for 2014.

* Right-handed pitcher Daniel Bard, claimed off waivers from the Red Sox, is working out at Fitch Park as well as infielder Mat Gamel, whom the Cubs claimed from the Brewers. Bard was expected to throw off the mound Tuesday.

Gamel did not play this season after re-tearing his ACL early in Spring Training. Was he surprised the Brewers put him on waivers?

“As far as a business standpoint, I completely understand where they’re coming from,” Gamel said. “It’s unfortunate. In the same breath, I’m happy for the new opportunity and looking forward to it and am excited about it. It’s new life.”

He can play third and first, and originally came up as a third baseman. He’s been with the Brewers for eight years.

“I don’t know any other organization,” he said. “Maybe this will be a good fresh start for me.”

Gamel planned to train in Mesa this week. He wants to show the Cubs he’s healthy. He re-injured his leg at the eight-month mark of his rehab, which was supposed to take six to nine months.

“I think it worked well this time,” he said. “It feels good, it feels strong and that’s the important thing.”

* The Arizona Fall League gets underway Tuesday with the Mesa Solar Sox playing at Glendale against the Desert Dogs. Expect to see Jorge Soler in right field for most of the AFL games. Cubs prospects Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Wes Darvill, Lendy Castillo, Dallas Beeler, Matt Loosen, and Armando Rivero also are on the Mesa roster. Beeler and Loosen will start.

* On Tuesday night, the Cubs’ instructional league team will play at 5:30 p.m. Arizona time at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are expected to be in town for the game.

* Cubs strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss will spend three weeks in November with Starlin Castro in the Dominican Republic to get the shortstop ready for the 2014 season.

* Cubs coach Franklin Font was headed to Venezuela soon to be a coach on Buddy Bailey’s Winter League team.

— Carrie Muskat