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Saturday, March 9
Cubs' Gordon sidelined three months

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Needing to fill Tom Gordon's void in a hurry, the Chicago Cubs hope to close a deal with free agent Jeff Shaw.

General manager Andy MacPhail called Shaw's agent this weekend to "explore his appetite to come back."

And the reliever, who had been leaning toward retirement, is definitely interested.

"I've already talked to Jeff. He has said he would like to consider it," agent Joe Bick said Saturday. "I think we'll know if it's going to fly within a day or two."

MacPhail said he figured he'd know by Monday or Tuesday whether there's a deal.

"We haven't spoken to Jeff yet," he said before Saturday's game against Milwaukee. "I would say that at this point it's still in the very preliminary stage."

The Cubs were counting on the oft-injured Gordon to be their closer this year. But he tore a muscle in the back of his right shoulder Tuesday and is expected to miss at least three months.

If Chicago does not acquire a closer, setup men Kyle Farnsworth and Jeff Fassero could share the role. The Cubs might also be forced to move Julian Tavarez from the rotation to the bullpen, something he does not want to do.

Cubs manager Don Baylor seemed to like the possibility of signing Shaw.

"There's only so many guys that can get three outs for you, the last three outs," he said. "He knows how to do it."

The 35-year-old Shaw was successful on 43 of 52 save chances for Los Angeles last season. He was 3-5 with a 3.62 ERA in 77 games.

The Dodgers declined an option on a $7.05 million contract for 2002 and instead paid him a $1.5 million buyout. He made $6 million last year.

During the offseason, Bick contacted Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis and Pittsburgh about job possibilities. When none panned out, Shaw said he planned to stay home in Ohio "unless something really drastically changes my mind."

To come back, Bick said, Shaw wanted to pitch in the National League and remain in the Midwest.

"Certainly the Cubs fit both of those requirements," Bick said.

Shaw has 203 saves in a major league career that started in 1990 with Cleveland. The two-time All-Star also has pitched for Montreal, the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati.

Shaw led the NL with 42 saves in 1997 for Cincinnati. The right-hander had a career-high 48 saves in 1998 while splitting the season with the Reds and Dodgers.

"Three years ago, we wouldn't even be having this conversation -- he was lights out," Baylor said. "You couldn't have just signed him."

"At this time of year, you can't just go out and get someone else's closer," he said. "Not unless you want to do something crazy."

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