Cubs

Grabow feels strong enough to make a difference

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Grabow feels strong enough to make a difference

Thursday, March 17, 2011Posted: 7:00 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

PHOENIX John Grabow will make 4.8 million this year, or essentially as much as Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol combined. The Cubs need him to be the bridge to the back end of their bullpen.

The blueprint was drawn up so that Wood and Sean Marshall will be protecting leads and Marmol wont go weeks between save opportunities. The strength of this team wont matter if the Cubs are trailing 5-2 and losing the middle innings.

Grabow earned that two-year deal because he was so durable and effective, two traits he did not show last season. He tried to pitch through the pain in his left knee and live up to his contract but couldnt.

The Cubs werent overly concerned about Grabows sore left shoulder, but they had to be encouraged after seeing him on the mound Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The 32-year-old reliever hadnt pitched in a game since the Cactus League opener on Feb. 27.

As Grabow walked back to the dugout after working a scoreless seventh inning, manager Mike Quade got up from his chair to give him a high-five. Grabow feeling good about his knee, shoulder and arm strength was the biggest takeaway from a 6-5 loss to the Oakland As.

The more the merrier, Quade said. We can talk about Marsh, Marm and Woody all day long. (But) we know its going to take a lot more than those guys. You (need) options (when) you go through a tough stretch where you have to pound on those guys two, three days in a row.

Grabow has appeared in 443 games since the start of the 2004 season, which ranks second-most among all left-handers in baseball. But he didnt even make it to the 2010 All-Star break, eventually shut down last summer with an MCL tear and a 7.36 ERA.

Through that experience Grabow learned that sometimes you need to back off, which is what he did recently after feeling tightness in his left shoulder.

The added intensity and the added reps maybe my body just wasnt ready for it, Grabow said. Three or four years ago, I just might have kept on going and made things worse. Now I kind of listen to my body and learn from mistakes in the past. Everythings worked out so far.

The Cubs think Grabow only needs about six more innings to be ready by Opening Day. After spending almost his entire professional life with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he feels added urgency.

Its going to be a great bullpen, and Id love to be a part of it, Grabow said. My whole career this is probably the best chance Ive got to go to the playoffs. So Im going to take advantage of that.

The difference between the Cubs being contenders or playing in front of empty seats at Wrigley Field will hinge in part on Grabow and their remodeled bullpen.

Id love to see him get back to when he was at his best, Quade said. I believe with his knee healthy (and) his shoulder strong, thats what well see.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Rizzo hurt as Cubs sweep Pirates

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USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: Rizzo hurt as Cubs sweep Pirates

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss the injury to Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs offense coming alive against the Pirates and the playoff chase with 2 weeks left in the season.

01:00     How worried are you about Rizzo's injury

05:00     Wrigley's reaction to Rizzo's injury

08:00     Bryant leads the Cubs offense against the Pirates

10:00     Heyward's resurgence after moving out of leadoff spot

12:00     Nico Hoerner's looks impressive in first series at Wrigley

15:00     How do Cubs stand with 2 weeks left?

17:00     Cubs have a chance to make up ground with Cardinals playing Nationals

18:30     Brewers staying in race without Yelich

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs put up historic numbers in three-game series against Pirates

Cubs put up historic numbers in three-game series against Pirates

Offense came in bunches this weekend at Wrigley Field. 

After scoring 17 and 14 runs on Friday and Saturday respectively, the Cubs continued their offensive barrage on Sunday. With 16 runs scored Sunday against the Pirates, the North Siders bumped their weekend total to a whopping 47 (yes, really). 

According to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, the Cubs' franchise record for most runs scored in a single three-game series is 48 (set in 1894). Despite coming one run short of tying their franchise water mark, though, the Cubs did score at a historic level:

Although their offensive outburst came against the last place Pirates, the Cubs have to be happy with their performance. Before welcoming Pittsburgh to town, the Cubs scored a combined 22 runs Monday-Thursday in their four-game series against the Padres.

Unfortunately, Sunday's series finale saw Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo go down with a nasty right ankle sprain in the third inning. The Cubs announced later in the game that X-rays didn't reveal a fracture in Rizzo's ankle. However, he'll undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the sprain.

In lighter news, the Cubs will enter Monday just two games back of the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central, as the Brewers took down St. Louis 7-6 on Sunday. The Cubs and their fans will certainly hold their breath on Monday awaiting news on Rizzo, though.

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