Gregg to remain closer when Henry returns

Updated: June 1, 2007, 12:49 AM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Despite former closer Henry Owens rejoining the team and news of a trade involving Armando Benitez, Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Kevin Gregg will remain the closer.

Kevin Gregg

Gregg

Relief Pitcher
Florida Marlins

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
27 0 2 13 35 1.99

"Kevin's going to be the guy who is going to be closing for us," Gonzalez said Thursday night before the Marlins lost 4-3 to the the Milwaukee Brewers. "I think he deserves that opportunity."

The Marlins acquired Benitez, who saved a club record 47 games for the Marlins in 2004, along with cash considerations from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for reliever Randy Messenger.

"We'll sit down and talk to him," Gonzalez said of Benitez. "Right now, Kevin has earned that opportunity [to close] and we'll see."

Gregg (0-2) has converted all six of his save opportunities -- five since May 16 -- and has not allowed an earned run since May 9, a span of 11 appearances. The right-hander also had to deal with back-to-back games where he was brought in with the bases loaded against the Cubs.

Gonzalez said he's been impressed with Gregg's versatility, having worked him in a variety of situations before Owens went on the disabled list with right rotator cuff tendinitis on May 11.

"He's thrown in the middle of the game, he's thrown at the end of games," Gonzalez said. "[Now] we've give him the opportunity to close and he's closed ballgames out."

Both Owens and Gregg have been a significant upgrade to Jorge Julio, who the Marlins had hoped would be the closer after saving 16 games with the Mets and Diamondbacks last season.

Julio spent time on the DL, went 0-2 with a 12.54 ERA in 10 relief appearances and was dealt to the Colorado Rockies on May 13 for another troubled pitcher, Byung-Hyun Kim.

Owens joined the Marlins along with reliever Matt Lindstrom from the Mets in the offseason for left-handed pitchers Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick.

Owens rejoined the team in Milwaukee on Thursday and was activated just before the game as the team optioned right-handed reliever Lee Gardner to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Gonzalez said he wasn't sure if he'd use Owens right away, but that his return bolsters a bullpen that has also gotten a lift from Lindstrom, who took the loss on Thursday, in the setup role.

"For us, it only adds depth," Gonzalez said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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