Cubs Sign Behind Wrigley Left Field Bleachers

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The city commission on Chicago Landmarks will review the Cubs' permit to erect a sign behind the left-field bleachers on Thursday. The move is not without opposition.

The Cubs want to add a sign with Toyota's logo behind the bleachers. The sign would rise 40 feet above the back of the bleachers. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the sign could be worth more than $2 million to the team.

Because Wrigley is an official Chicago landmark, any alternations must be reviewed. But according to a story in the Chicago Tribune, even if the commission approves the sign, it could face a fight. Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward has asked lawyers whether the sign also needs City Council approval.

"It's my belief that with more aldermanic support, we could have put this behind us," Ricketts told the Chicago Tribune.

There's another issue. Tom Gramatis, who owns four buildings overlooking Wrigley, including the building behind left field that now has an advertisement for a casino, opposes the sign. His three other buildings have been converted to rooftop clubs that sell tickets to Cubs games.

Gramatis belongs to the Wrigley Rooftop Association, which feels the sign violates the landmark features. The association, through spokesman Rob Nash, told the Chicago Tribune it is fearful the Ricketts will add even more signage.

The rooftop owners and the Cubs have a revenue sharing agreement until 2023. Ricketts said the family has no intentions of installing other signs along the outfield.

"Wrigley Field is not a museum," Ricketts said. "We have to look for revenue opportunities."

Grabow came from same place as Big Z

CHICAGO -- Cubs reliever John Grabow can empathize with any awkwardness Carlos Zambrano might be feeling as he makes the adjustment from starter to reliever.

The left-hander was a starter in the Minor Leagues until 2003, when he was shifted to the bullpen. He has never made a start in the Major Leagues but remembers how strange it was to shift from pitching every fifth day to whenever needed.

"I think [Zambrano] has gone down there and gone about his business just like everyone else," Grabow said. "We all know he wants to start. He's been doing that for six, seven years and you get used to a certain routine as a starter. All of a sudden you're thrown into the fire in the bullpen where you have to get ready every day and it can be a little bit of a shock. I understand where he's coming from. I know how he feels."

That routine is nice. Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija, both candidates for a spot in the Cubs rotation this spring, mentioned how much they liked knowing when they would pitch. Grabow understands.

"I was a starter in the Minor Leagues and I know how it is to get into a routine and pitch every fifth day and all of a sudden you have to be ready every day," Grabow said. "It can be a little shock to your system.

"[Zambrano] seems to be taking it well and who knows how long it will last?" Grabow said. "While he's down there we'll all embrace him. We know he can help out the bullpen."

Grabow picked up his fourth hold on Friday against the D-backs, his third in his last four appearances.

"He threw the ball well," manager Lou Piniella said of the veteran, who struck out two in one inning. "I thought his stuff was very crisp, he was sharp and he did a real nice job."

Grabow would prefer to be used more, not less, which is another thing Zambrano has to adjust to.

"I like pitching every day," Grabow said. "I don't like sitting down there three, four days. Even if you have a bad day, you want to get out there. If you're sitting down there not pitching, you start to think -- why am I not pitching? I just get real antsy."

Caridad may be close to return

CHICAGO -- Cubs rookie Esmailin Caridad was to throw one inning in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday at extended Spring Training. If all goes well, the right-hander could join Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday for a couple rehab appearances.

Caridad has been on the disabled list since April 12 with a strained right forearm and has been rehabbing in Mesa.

"I would think if everything is right, he could be joining us by next weekend in Cincinnati," manager Lou Piniella said Saturday. "That's the plan if everything goes right."

Caridad was projected as the Cubs' primary setup pitcher but with his injury, the team moved Carlos Zambrano into that role. Big Z will stay in the bullpen when Caridad returns.

"I think it'll make us a little deeper from the right side," Piniella said of the bullpen makeup. "We haven't discussed what we're going to do, assuming he's there next weekend. It's still too far away. But it'll be one of the young pitchers he'll be replacing."

Which would mean one of the young right-handers -- Justin Berg or Jeff Gray -- could be re-assigned.

Cubs tweak rotation to accommodate Silva

CHICAGO -- Carlos Silva made his fifth start on Saturday, but the Cubs right-hander is still bothered by a sore right wrist and will be given an extra day before his next start.

Manager Lou Piniella said the team will tweak the rotation after Monday's off-day. Ryan Dempster (2-1, 2.78 ERA) will start Tuesday and open the series in Pittsburgh, and be followed by Ted Lilly (1-1, 4.91 ERA), and Randy Wells (3-0, 3.45 ERA).

Tom Gorzelanny (0-3, 2.45 ERA) will open the three-game series in Cincinnati next Friday and be followed by Silva and Dempster.

Silva hurt his wrist batting in his last start, on Monday against Washington, but stayed in the game.


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