Grabow joins Cubs in Florida
Lefty goes from last to first; Gorzelanny to join club Saturday
MIAMI -- John Grabow received about 30 text messages from friends who keep an eye on the National League Central standings, pointing out the obvious. He's gone from last to first.
"It's pretty neat," said Grabow, whom the Cubs acquired Thursday from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a five-player deal, "but at the same time, it's the same job as it was in Pittsburgh, which is trying to get guys out."
Grabow reported to his new job on Friday, joining the first-place Cubs in Florida for the three-game series against the Marlins.
"It gives us another lefty and it gives us an experienced pitcher at the end of the ballgame," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Grabow gets right-handed hitters out very well, also. He's got a real nice changeup. It gives us another dependable, reliable pitcher with experience at the end of the ballgame, and we don't have to go to our guys three, four days in a row like we have had to."
That's good news for Sean Marshall, who had been the only southpaw in the Cubs' pen.
"It always helps to have an extra arm, especially a left-hander, in the 'pen," Marshall said.
Grabow knows exactly what Marshall has gone through.
"I was the only lefty left in Pittsburgh for a little while, and it's tough sometimes," Grabow said. "It's like you've got all the weight of the world on your shoulders when you have a bunch of lefties in the lineup. I'm going to try to help these guys out as much as I can."
Piniella can now choose which southpaw to use in relief. Plus, if he needs Marshall to go a little longer, he can.
"This gives us one more arm at the end of the ballgame," Piniella said. "We can manage games a little differently and have a left-hander in the sixth and one in the eighth. We didn't have that luxury before."
Grabow, who will wear No. 43, was 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA in 45 games with the Pirates. He has been on a good roll, posting a 2.22 ERA and a .184 opponents' batting average in his past 25 appearances.
It had been strange in Pittsburgh lately because of all the players leaving in deals. Grabow, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson and Ian Snell were all gone in a few days.
"It has been a little bit depressing there, because they're trading away all the big league guys and it seems like it's a Triple-A team right now," Grabow said of the Pirates. "What they're doing is cleaning house and starting from scratch."
His name had been linked to several teams in need of a lefty in the 'pen. Did he want to come to Chicago?
"I really didn't think about where I was going to go," Grabow said. "Obviously, I played in Chicago against these guys. They have a great team and always play us tough. They have good players here and are determined to win. That comes first. I'm excited to try to blend in with these guys here and contribute."
What should Cubs fans look for?
"When I'm throwing good, I'm throwing strikes," Grabow said. "When I face lefties, I'll throw my slider and fastball. When I face righties, it'll be my fastball and changeup. I don't try to trick anyone, I keep it simple."
Grabow talked to Tom Gorzelanny, the other lefty pitcher the Cubs acquired from the Pirates, and the Evergreen Park, Ill., native was excited about the move. Gorzelanny will join the team in Florida on Saturday and throw in the bullpen for pitching coach Larry Rothschild. He's slated to make his Cubs debut Tuesday, starting against the Cincinnati Reds.
"He was up with us for a little bit this year, and it seems like he's turned things around and he's pitching healthy, and that's the key for him is to be healthy," Grabow said. "He's got the ability and he's got the makeup to be a good pitcher. He did it two years ago. It's a matter of him getting his confidence back and staying healthy."
The addition of Gorzelanny gives Cubs starter Ted Lilly, currently on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left shoulder, plenty of time to get healthy.
"The one thing with Ted is we don't want to rush this situation either," Piniella said. "We want to make sure he's properly healed. If we have to send him out for rehab, we can do that, too. With [Ryan] Dempster, we didn't have that opportunity."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.