Jeff Gray and John Gaub Show Potential for Cubs

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The Cubs have played only one game, but Lou Piniella and staff will be keeping an eye on the Triple-A Iowa box scores to watch how some of the young relievers are doing there just in case they need help.

Among the pitchers the Cubs want to watch are right-hander Jeff Gray, who was slowed this spring because of a groin injury, and lefty John Gaub.

"We'll have to sort some things out here, and one of those is the youth we have in the bullpen," Piniella said. "They obviously pitched well enough in Spring Training to be here, but now they have to pitch well enough to help us win baseball games. You can't go on one game. Hopefully, they learn from that experience."

On Monday against Atlanta, Sean Marshall and rookie James Russell were sharp, but Jeff Samardzija walked three straight batters when he started the seventh and was charged with six runs in one-third of an inning. Justin Berg also had some trouble, walking three in one inning.

"We like the kid Gray down in Triple-A," Piniella said. "He's going through basically the end of Spring Training now. Let him pitch and get sharp. We're just going to have to deal with what we've got, we're going to have to sort it out and put everybody in their respective roles and go with it.

"These guys will get better," Piniella said. "They wouldn't be here if they were walking three or four hitters a game in Spring Training."

The Cubs will have to make a move the third week of April when Ted Lilly will be ready. Lilly was to make two more Minor League starts, including Friday for Iowa. It's part of his rehab from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. If all goes well, the lefty could pitch when the Cubs play the Mets in New York, April 19-22.

Piniella was still smarting from Monday's 16-5 loss to the Braves.

"I wasn't expecting anything like that," he said. "I don't think anybody was. It's behind us, it's only one loss. It wasn't pretty, but we'll get better assuredly."

The Cubs had played good defense and the pitching was solid all spring. On Monday, they made two errors, including one by Gold Glove first baseman Derrek Lee.

"You're going to have some clunkers along the way," Piniella said. "If it happens sometime in the middle of the summer, you just shrug your shoulders. When it happens on Opening Day, it's a little more profound.

"One thing about it, it's in the loss column," he said. "If you lose, 3-2, or, 14-13, or whatever the score is, it's only one loss. Hopefully, you learn from those things and you put it behind you and just go forward. There's nothing else you can do -- you can't replay it." ... p;c_id=chc

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