07/07/2009 1:16 PM ET
Kevin Gregg: Opportunity knocked
Cubs closer was given more responsibility by Marlins
Maybe the biggest difference between the first couple of years in my career and the last couple of years has been improved opportunity. Everybody is waiting for an opportunity in baseball because there's such fierce competition for so few positions.
A couple of years ago, I was traded to the Marlins from the Angels. I had an entirely different role with the Marlins, and the change in roles put me in position to move to the Cubs this winter and take on my current role. One opportunity led to another.
Going to the Marlins allowed me to prove myself as a closer. The job wasn't given to me right off the bat, of course. I didn't get the job until seven weeks into the 2007 season. In fact, they tried a number of different pitchers before me. Those guys didn't get the job done, or they succumbed to injuries.
Then it was my turn. I told the club I could do it, that I wanted to do it, and I just happened to get the job done. From there, I just rolled with it.
When I broke in with the Angels, I pitched in just about every role except closer. Back then, I wasn't sure what type of role I wanted. I still loved starting games, and I did that from time to time, but I was enjoying my time in the bullpen, because coming out of the bullpen allowed me to pitch on a daily basis.
When you break in, you go out, put up your numbers, you pitch in certain situations and you see what happens. I only made the Angels my first year because Brendan Donnelly broke his nose in Spring Training. If it weren't for that, I probably wouldn't have made the team because I had never pitched in relief before.
When I realized I was going to be used out of the 'pen, I kind of ran with it, and they kept me in there. I played that role for a few years, and then the Marlins decided to take a chance on me. I put up 30 saves two years in a row, and now here I am with the Cubs.
There is something about coming into games in a pressure situation, especially late in a game, where the adrenaline really flows. The closer job became a fun situation. I wanted to see what it was like to come into the game as the go-to guy.
Once I started down that path, I never looked back. I loved it, and I continue to love it. I wouldn't change it for the world.
Pitching at Wrigley, of course, is special. There are usually a lot more people in the stands than there were in Florida, but I don't let that affect my approach. You have to look those other 24 guys in the eye no matter how many people show up. You have to look yourself in the mirror and put forth your best effort every day. It doesn't matter if there are 5,000 people or 40,000 people in the stands. You have to get the job done.
Now I need to keep performing in my role. Despite posting back-to-back 30-save seasons the last two years, you can't allow yourself to get complacent in baseball. Once you get too full of yourself, it's likely to come back and bite you.
I still go out there every day with the mindset that nothing will be handed to me and that, if I get an opportunity, I need to seize on it.
Kevin Gregg became a mainstay with the Angels in 2004, pitching in a variety of roles that included five starts. Despite having one career save when he joined Florida, the Marlins made him their closer in 2007, and he saved 32 games. In 2008, the 6-foot-6 right-hander saved 29 games. He was traded to the Cubs during the offseason and has saved 15 games in 18 opportunities while holding opposing batters to a .223 average.