Gaub’s adjustments earn him his first call-up

Left-handed reliever John Gaub was one of three additional call-ups announced today, making his debut with the big league club. Lou Montañez and DJ LeMahieu also were recalled to Chicago.

Below is our Minor League Notebook on Gaub, featured in the July 2011 issue of Vine Line. A subscription to the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs gets you monthly coverage of the farm system, including expanded scouting reports and player tracking that debuted this month. (Written by Mike Malloy; photo by Stephen Green)

The good news for John Gaub is that he’s done with shoulder surgeries. The reason for the good news is the bad news: His left shoulder can’t handle any more surgeries.

Gaub, 26, has bounced back from his latest physical setback. Over 55.1 minor league innings, opponents hit just .209 off the left-handed reliever. His fastball has hit 97 mph this season with Class AAA Iowa, and it consistently ranges from 93 to 95.

“He’s throwing harder than he ever has,” Iowa pitching coach Mike Mason said.

He’s also added a curveball to his well-established fastball and slider.

“A major league bat can cover 95 and 86 [mph],” said Mason, referring to Gaub’s fastball and slider speeds.

The curveball, Mason said, comes in at a dazzlingly slow 78-80 mph, getting hitters out in front and making his fastball appear that much faster.

Gaub, who played for his hometown Minnesota Golden Gophers, said he feels as good as he ever has, but that still doesn’t mean he’s pain-free. Gaub had two shoulder surgeries while in college; the second repaired a torn labrum.

“When I got out of surgery, the doctor told me I had a slim chance of ever pitching again,” Gaub said.

He did, making his professional debut with the Cleveland Indians organization in 2007. He later became a Cub as part of the Mark DeRosa trade. Gaub showed promise last season, striking out 38 in 29 Triple-A innings, but was shut down in June after experiencing intolerable arm pain. He blames his inattention to pre-game stretching of his well-worked shoulder.

“I should have learned my lesson the first time. Nice little kick in the butt last year,” Gaub said.

That lesson was further enforced by an X-ray taken last summer.

“I could still see the drill holes [from the surgery],” Gaub said.

Before his September call-up, Gaub had yet to pitch in the majors, a fact not lost on him when considering his surgical history or his age.

“I’m not exactly young. It’s getting to be crunch time,” Gaub said.

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