Sveum: Gregg's our closer

Sveum: Gregg's our closer

Posted by Bruce on Wed, 05/08/2013 - 12:35

Another day, another closer for the Cubs, at least officially. Manager Dale Sveum conceded this morning that Kevin Gregg is the team’s closer and that he’ll have that job even when Kyuji Fujikawa comes off the disabled list, most likely this weekend in Washington.

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

Fujikawa is scheduled to pitch today for Class AA Tennessee in a rehab appearance as he works his way back from a right-forearm strain.

“We’ll kind of get him in and get him acclimated and see how he’s doing out there on the mound in a big-league atmosphere," Sveum said.

Gregg, the Cubs’ closer most of 2009, is 5-for-5 in save chances this year. The Cubs’ bullpen as a whole is 9-for-17. Carlos Marmol has 2 saves and Fujikawa has the other 2.”

The Cubs picked Gregg up as a minor-league free agent last month. He enjoyed a good spring training with the Dodgers but got caught in a numbers squeeze there and didn’t make the team.

In other action this morning, catcher Welington Castillo was working on throws to second base. He has 5 errors this season, and Sveum wanted him to work on throwing mechanics.

On the flip side, Sveum wanted no mechanics involved as he threw batting practice to slumping second baseman Darwin Barney, who is 0-for-21. Barney’s hitting line is .147/.275/.250. It’s possible Barney will get into today’s game against the Cardinals for defense and get a late at-bat, but with an off-day tomorrow before the Cubs play in Washington this weekend, Barney gets an extended break.

“He gets two days of not dealing with all this,” Sveum said. “Just a good day. It was nice to bring him out today and just let him hit and not think about any mechanics. Just let him get a mindset of hitting balls as hard as he can. There’s no mechanics or anything going on out there.”

With Barney out, the lineup looks like this against Jake Westbrook:

DeJesus, CF
Castro, SS
Valbuena, 2B
Rizzo, 1B
Schierholtz, RF
Sweeney, LF
Navarro, C
Ransom, 3B
Villanueva, P

Alfonso Soriano gets today off plus the off-day, as Sveum says he’ll try to work in off-days, especially with day games after night games and coupling the days off with open days in the schedule.

From the game notes: Anthony Rizzo leads the National League and is tied for second in the majors with 18 extra-base hits while David DeJesus is tied for ninth in the NL, with 15 … Travis Wood last night recorded his seventh straight quality start to open a season. He’s the first Cubs pitcher to do that since Johnny Schmitz in 1948, even if the term “quality start” had not been coined … The Cubs have four starting pitchers with an ERA of 3.09 or lower: Scott Feldman (2.70), Jeff Samardzija (3.09), Wood (2.33) and Carlos Villanueva (2.85). All five St. Louis starters are below 3.09.

The Cubs are 12-8 when they get a quality start, and the starters sport an ERA of 1.91 in those games. When they don’t get a quality start, the Cubs are 1-12, and the starters have an ERA of 6.49.

MINOR-LEAGUE ROUNDUP

The Kane County Cougars had Tuesday off. They return to Midwest League action tonight at Burlington.

Class AAA Iowa managed only 4 singles in a 5-0 loss at Colorado Springs. Nick Struck took the loss, working 5.2 innings and giving up 8 hits and 5 runs, all earned. He walked three and struck out six in falling to 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA. Dave Sappelt was 1-for-3 in his first game since being demoted.

Class AA Tennessee lost 16-0 in a game ended after five innings because of rain. That denied Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa a chance to make his rehab appearance. He’s doing that today for the Smokies. Matt Loosen took the loss, working only 2.1 innings and giving up 4 hits and 7 runs. He’s 0-1 with an 8.49 ERA. Ronald Torreyes walked twice and has reached in five consecutive games.

Daytona (A) fell 13-3 to St. Lucie. Ben Wells was the losing pitcher for the Cubs as he went 5 innings and gave up 7 hits and 5 runs, all earned. He’s 3-2 with a 4.06 ERA. Javier Baez hit his sixth homer. Ben Carhart extended a hit streak to 12 game with a fifth-inning single. He’s 19-for-45 (.422) during the streak.

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