The brick wall by the Cubs' bullpen has a pharmacy's logo on it this season, part of the team's long-range plan to generate revenue streams at Wrigley Field by any means necessary. It only makes sense, considering the porous Cubs bullpen has been a leading cause for thousands of painkiller prescriptions over the years. But after a rough start to April, the Cubs have been encouraged by the current makeup of their bullpen, especially since the arrival of Kevin Gregg allowed manager Dale Sveum to install his closer-by-committee plan. Sveum believes the relievers pitch better when they don't know exactly when they'll be used. "Keep you on your toes," he said before Monday's game against the Padres. "Everybody from that fifth inning is on call at any time." Gregg came on in the eighth inning Monday with the tying runs on second and third, escaped the jam and pitched a perfect ninth in a 5-3 victory over the Padres. Greg is now 4-for-4 in saves and hasn't allowed a run in six appearances. "Calming presence for sure," Jeff Samardzija said. "Just his demeanor and the way he goes about his work every day. Obviously he was here with us a few years ago and we knew that's what he was and that's what he's all about. He comes in, throws strikes and he pitches down in the zone. Any time you add another strong guy to your bullpen, it just makes your bullpen that much deeper." Samardzija pitched only five innings, struggling with his grip because of a cut on his index finger from trying to field a ball in his last start in Cincinnati. But the bullpen picked him up with Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, James Russell and Gregg combining for four scoreless innings. The Cubs also got strong defensive plays by Cody Ransom and Darwin Barney, who both contributed offensively as well with a pair of RBIs. Ransom homered and had the go-ahead, RBI single in the two-run sixth against the team that released him a couple of weeks ago.
Improving bullpen protects Cubs' win over Padres
Chicago Tribune | Apr 30