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05/06/09 7:47 PM ET

Cubs call up reliever Fox from Triple-A

Move adds veteran presence to 'pen; Samardzija optioned

HOUSTON -- The Chicago Cubs announced Wednesday afternoon that they had recalled right-handed reliever Chad Fox from Triple-A Iowa and sent down right-hander Jeff Samardzija to Iowa.

The 38-year-old Fox appeared in three games for the Cubs last season.

"We'll pitch him in that sixth-, seventh-inning role," manager Lou Piniella said. "We're pretty young in that bullpen. Having a veteran pitcher out there certainly helps. Fox threw the ball fairly well this spring. The important thing with him is staying healthy."

Fox injured his pitching elbow after playing 11 games with the Cubs in 2005. He underwent surgery and missed the entire 2006 and 2007 seasons. Working as the closer for Iowa this season, he was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and two saves in 11 games. He struck out 10 and walked three.

Samardzija had appeared in five games for the Cubs this season, pitching 3 1/3 innings with no decisions. He had an ERA of 8.10 with five strikeouts, two walks and one home run allowed.

He is scheduled to start for the Iowa Cubs on Saturday.

"In fairness to the kid, he started down there [in the Minors] and we then put him in the bullpen," Piniella said. "It's probably not the easiest transition. It's a different mentality. He needs to work on his secondary pitches and keeping his fastball down more."

Fox received the word late Tuesday night after returning from a road trip to Memphis and Nashville with the Iowa Cubs. He left on a 7 a.m. flight and landed at 9:15 in Houston, where he was greeted by his family, his wife and three daughters.

Fox was born in Conroe, Texas, about an hour north of Houston and now lives in The Woodlands.

"The kids played hooky and we went out to lunch," he said.

Fox said the only instruction Piniella gave him was "just be ready."

He said he would like to play one or two more years. He signed a one-year contract with the Cubs as a non-roster invitee.

"You get to the tail end of your career, you don't want to go out as just an old, beat-up player," he said. "As long as I'm healthy, they'll have to tear the jersey off my back.

"When I came back last year, I said, 'Hey, I can still play this game.' I'm lucky to be in this organization. [General manager] Jim Hendry and this staff have always believed in me. That's all you can ask as a player. I've been through so much, with the setbacks. Am I doing the right thing? Do I need to keep going?"

At Fox's age, you want to be with a team that has a chance to win, make the playoffs and contend for a World Series title. He was part of the 2003 Florida Marlins, who beat the Yankees in the World Series.

"I'm blessed to be with a great organization that expects to win," he said. "That's what you want, the older you get."

Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.