Grissom can bring a lot to Cubs' table

Veteran Grissom can bring a lot to Cubs' table

MESA, Ariz. -- You won't hear any complaints from Marquis Grissom.

The veteran outfielder knows his role. He knows what he can do. And, Grissom knows he can still play.

Grissom, who turns 39 on April 17, is in the Chicago Cubs camp as a non-roster invitee, and he could make the team as an extra outfielder. He has something that not many of the Cubs outfielders have: Experience. He's a leader. Grissom can not only tell players what to do, he can show them.

"I can only do what I do. That's who I am," Grissom said Sunday. "I just go out and try to play baseball, the old-school way, the old-fashioned way. Everybody come together as one. We're a team, a unit, have the same thing in common throughout the season and that's to go out and try to win each and every day. I'm that kind of player and can bring that to the table. I like to be an example on the field, too. It's a situation that's good for me."

Last year was not a good situation. Grissom was with the San Francisco Giants and bothered by a sore right hamstring. He was limited to 44 games and batted .212. The Giants released him on Aug. 9, and he went home to rehab.

"The hamstring is good," he said. "I've had six, seven months to rehab. I feel real good. I'm at a point where I'm as healthy as I've been the last four, five years. It all depends on how much I push myself."

An early arrival to the Cubs camp, the push will formally start on Tuesday in the first full-squad workout.

"We hope he can still play the way we know 'Grip' can play," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We know he can hit left-handers well, he always has. His knowledge of the game is vast. He's been on winners, he works hard.

"Guys gravitate towards him," Baker said. "You need those kind of guys. There's a lot he can still do."

Grissom could be used as a pinch-runner, could pinch-hit or could sub for Jacque Jones against left-handed pitchers. He has a career .285 average against lefties; Jones has hit .227. Grissom can play all three outfield positions, he can help Juan Pierre and Derrek Lee and others with scouting reports on pitchers.

"I know my role," Grissom said. "I've had my time where I played every day for 12, 13 years. When I came in the league [with Montreal], that was my role, to pinch-hit, pinch-run and try to get a starting job. Not only that but in the last couple years in San Francisco and L.A., that was my role.

"I want my teammates to depend on me and rely on me whether it's 200 at-bats, 100 at-bats or 400 at-bats," he said. "That's what it's all about. We want to depend on one another day in and day out."

That's a nice attitude to have from a veteran player. Grissom could easily be demanding playing time. He's not.

"One of the hardest things in this game is a fallen star," Baker said. "When a guy accepts the position that he's in in his career, it makes it easier on a manager and coaches and very beneficial to the guys on the team."

A two-time All-Star, Grissom enters with a career .272 batting average, he's played in four Division Series, three League Championship Series, and three World Series (1995, '96 and '97). He could be a key part of the 2006 Cubs.

"I hope so," he said. "I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can do. When I get a chance to produce, I want to produce. I don't want to just be a guy coming off the bench. When I get the opportunity to start, I want to put up numbers, too."

Grissom never considered packing his gear. Several teams called this offseason and were interested in adding him to their rosters. Among his options, the Cubs were the best fit. It's an easy flight home to Atlanta to see his family. Grissom also remembers how he learned from veteran players such as Tim Raines and Otis Nixon.

"I've got plenty left," he said. "If I couldn't play, if my hamstring injury wouldn't allow me to be the best player I can be and wouldn't let me go full throttle, I would've gone home. Last year, I think I could've played more, but the Giants had plans to go with younger people.

"All I can do is get myself ready to play," he said. "When it's time [to quit], I think I'll know. I won't be one of those players out there running on one leg wounded, looking bad. When I went to San Francisco, I realized I can't be Superman, a super hero. When it's time to slow it down, slow it down."

Still, it would seem to be tough to go from being an everyday player to a bench player.

"My mind-set is stay sharp, work hard and stay ready," he said. "That's what I'm going to do. The last four, five years, that's what I've been doing. I know my role, so that's why I think it's easier for me. Can't complain, won't complain. You won't hear any complaints from me."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.