Cubs’ Kevin Gregg apologizes for blowup, might be released
BY TONI GINNETTI Staff Reporter September 21, 2013 12:42AM
Chicago Cubs closing pitcher Kevin Gregg, right, celebrates with manager Dale Sveum left, after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 in a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, July 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: September 21, 2013 4:24PM
The Cubs aren’t in a playoff race, but the heat of a terrible season has ignited tempers in the last five days.
The latest incident happened after a 9-5 loss Friday to the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field when an angry Kevin Gregg blasted the organization for what he thought was a decision to try Pedro Strop in the closer role instead of him.
Gregg, who gave up four runs in the ninth inning after entering with the game tied at 5, said he had been told by Sveum of the organization’s decision, saying he ‘‘expected to be treated a little better than this’’ after saving 32 games.
But Sveum and team president Theo Epstein said Gregg misunderstood them. They said he and Strop would share the closer role.
Epstein summoned Gregg to Sveum’s office after learning of his comments. Then Epstein met with reporters, saying Gregg apologized to he and Sveum. But Epstein added he would decide by Saturday whether to release Gregg for his outburst to the media.
‘‘I told him how disappointed I was, given the way we’ve treated him this year and bringing him back to Chicago and showing faith in him,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘I think it took him a couple minutes to understand he had misunderstood Dale, and he ultimately apologized to Dale and to me.’’
Gregg then made the long walk up to the press box to speak with reporters again. He said he had a ‘‘knee-jerk reaction,’’ misunderstood Sveum originally and was OK with sharing the closer duties.
‘‘They want to look at Pedro, but they’re not taking anything away from me,’’ he said. ‘‘I want to close every single game, but you talk to Theo and Dale and see what the organization is going to do. I’m OK with that because you do have to work for next year, too.’’
The incident was the third this week between a player and Sveum or a coach.
Pitcher Edwin Jackson argued with Sveum when he was lifted from his start Monday in Milwaukee. Jeff Samardzija had words with coach David Bell about defensive positioning during his start Tuesday.
‘‘It’s natural when you have a tough season, a losing season, there are some brush fires that come up at the end of the year,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘Last year we got through the season without a single one. I said about six weeks ago, ‘It’s going to be impossible to get through the season without something popping up here or there,’ and sure enough we’ve had three this week.’’
Epstein added it was not a reflection on Sveum, who also is being evaluated for the season.
Gregg said the blowups this week reflect frustrations.
‘‘None of us wanted to be in this situation with our record. You see a lot of frustration, and it boils over,’’ he said. ‘‘Nobody wants to lose. You get sick of it, and it just happens. You blow up.
‘‘I see a bunch of guys in the clubhouse who care. I’ve been on bad teams that didn’t care. You should be excited there are emotions. Everybody wants to compete, and that’s what causes these flare ups.’’