Trachsel returns to Cubs in deal with O's

Trachsel returns to Cubs in deal

CHICAGO -- The Cubs acquired Steve Trachsel on Friday and will go with what manager Lou Piniella called a "modified" six-man rotation for the final month.

Trachsel is expected to join the Cubs on Saturday and will get a start in the upcoming four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which begins Monday. Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild wanted to sit down with the right-hander on Saturday before deciding which game Trachsel would start. His last start with the Orioles was Wednesday in a no-decision against Tampa Bay, when he gave up one run on five hits and four walks over six innings.

The Cubs dealt Minor League pitcher Rocky Cherry and third baseman Scott Moore to the Orioles for Trachsel, who went 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA in August and was 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA overall.

"I see him starting," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said of Trachsel, who pitched for the Cubs from 1993-99. "We wanted to try to augment the pitching. We've got extra games coming. We're in the time of year when you don't want to get caught short.

"It was not meant in any way to replace somebody in the rotation or that somebody was doing poorly," Hendry said. "But you're one hamstring away from a need for two starters."

The Cubs have relied on five starters for all but six games this season, and Trachsel will be a welcome veteran in the mix.

"He can pitch," Rothschild said of Trachsel, who was on his staff in Tampa Bay. "He's got a lot of innings under his belt in the Major Leagues, and he's a veteran right-handed pitcher who can help us down the stretch."

By using a six-man rotation, the Cubs can give other starters an extra day of rest, or manuever the rotation for the best matchup. It'll keep Rothschild busy, schedule-wise.

"We're not going to give guys extra days to rest them, we're going to give them extra days because we think we can put somebody in there who can win a game," Rothschild said. "That's what it's all about. It's the best of both worlds. The first and foremost thing is to win games."

Trachsel does pick up some games. The Orioles were 21 games back in the American League East, while the Cubs are on top of the National League Central.

"I'm excited," Trachsel said. "I'm surprised mostly. I know that it's been talked about and talked about, but you never expect anything to happen. It's a good situation over there, obviously. It's going to be fun."

"I'm excited. I'm surprised mostly. I know that it's been talked about and talked about, but you never expect anything to happen. It's a good situation over there, obviously. It's going to be fun."
-- Steve Trachsel

By making the deal before midnight Saturday, Trachsel will be eliglble for the Cubs' postseason roster.

"I didn't want to get in a spot where you're in the thick of it and [at the end] of September, you have to start a young man who doesn't have the experience," Hendry said.

The Cubs do have a doubleheader Sept. 15, against the St. Louis Cardinals. The other starting options were Minor Leaguers Sean Gallagher and Kevin Hart.

"We thought it was a deal we had to do to give us a deep starting pitching group," Hendry said.

Cubs scout Ken Kravec has watched Trachsel over his last couple starts. Trachsel, 36, returns to the organization that originally selected him in the eighth round of the 1991 Draft.

Trachsel broke into the big leagues with the Cubs at the age of 23 in 1993, and was 9-7 with a 3.21 ERA for the team that year. During his first stint in Chicago, he was 60-69 with a 4.35 ERA in 187 games (186 starts). He was 13-9 in 1996, and 15-8 in 1998 with the Cubs.

"He's a good guy, a good competitor, and a little slow," Cubs outfielder Cliff Floyd said of Trachsel, known for his deliberate ways on the mound.

The right-hander also will forever be etched in baseball history after serving up Mark McGwire's 62nd home run on Sept. 8, 1998, which boosted the St. Louis slugger past Roger Maris for the single-season home run record.

Trachsel was an All-Star in 1996, and has pitched in one Division Series game and one League Championship Series game for the New York Mets. He also has pitched for Toronto.

Several teams were pursuing the right-hander to boost their postseason pitching staffs.

"He was a hot ticket the last couple days, and we were lucky to get him," Hendry said.

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