Grabow, Harden hope to return to Cubs
Reliever in talks with team; starter holding off till season ends
CHICAGO -- It's been a little weird this week for Rich Harden and John Grabow. They are two of the Cubs' four free agents-to-be, and one has already begun talks about returning, while the other is taking a wait-and-see approach.
Grabow, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 30 along with Tom Gorzelanny, said Saturday his agent has had preliminary talks with the Cubs about returning in 2010.
"They're talking about bringing me back, and that's all I know," said Grabow, who has appeared in 30 games for the Cubs. "I told him to keep me out of it, and when you guys decide how long you want me to come back for and all that stuff, let me know."
Grabow, who had played only with the Pirates before joining the Cubs, has made his intentions clear. So has the team.
"They told me they wanted me to stay here," Grabow said. "We've made it pretty clear that we want to come back. It's just a matter of finding common ground. It won't happen until the season is over.
"I want to come back," the left-hander said. "I don't want to go anywhere else."
Playing for the Cubs has been different than playing for the Pirates.
"It's a lot different, because you come into a completely different environment," Grabow said. "Obviously, this team didn't do as well as it did last year, but the team chemistry is still there. Next year, guys will come back more healthy, more prepared, more experienced. They know how it feels to not win and they see how that tastes, and it doesn't taste very good. Hopefully, they come back hungry."
If Grabow returns, he'd like to keep the same locker. Grabow inherited the end space that was last used by Kerry Wood. It's nearest the clubhouse dining room.
"I can watch TV here and go in there and get food," Grabow said, smiling.
Players can file for free agency after the World Series ends, and have two weeks to do so. Harden, who was 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 26 starts, said he's going to wait until the end of the season to discuss the next step, but he, too, would like to return. The Cubs may not be able to talk about next year until their ownership situation is settled and general manager Jim Hendry has a budget. The Cubs' other free agents are Reed Johnson and Kevin Gregg.
"I like this team and the organization, and I'm very happy with my time here," the right-hander said. "I like the way they run the organization from top to bottom. Yeah, I'd like to be here next year, but we'll see what happens."
Harden has had arm problems in the past, but he benefited from a program created by Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild, athletic trainer Mark O'Neal, and strength coach Tim Buss and said the communication between those three and himself definitely helped.
"They had a good understanding of what we needed to do, and I had a better understanding of what I needed to do on a personal level," Harden said.
Once the Cubs were eliminated from the postseason this week, players began packing their things. Ryan Theriot has been spotted in his camouflage gear, getting ready for hunting season.
"It's a strange feeling," Harden said of the season winding down. "Especially after being in Oakland for 5 1/2 years and being here for a short time, the time here has gone by really fast.
"It's a quality team, a good group of guys," Harden said. "It's kind of a sad feeling."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.