OAKLAND -- The Cubs' first trip to Oakland is also a homecoming of sorts for manager Dale Sveum, who was raised in Richmond, Calif., located north of Berkeley in Contra Costa County.
"It's not quite like it was when I first came here playing," said Sveum about returning to the Bay Area. "I don't have that much family here. My brother lives here, so it'll be good to see him and his family."
Sveum is a diehard Oakland Raiders fan, but didn't go to many games.
"I didn't have the money to pay for football games," he said. "I'd much rather sit home and watch football on TV anyway."
He did take the BART to some Athletics games, and used to sit in the bleachers. The carpeting has been replaced in the visiting manager's office since the septic system backed up last month, and the clubhouse has been thoroughly cleaned. Does Sveum think the Athletics need a new ballpark?
"Yeah," he said, without hesitating.
Gregg excited about Cubs' new arms
OAKLAND -- Cubs closer Kevin Gregg was a teammate of Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop last year with the Orioles, and was with Matt Guerrier on the Dodgers during Spring Training. When he heard that the Cubs had acquired Arrieta and Strop on Tuesday, he was surprised.
"I couldn't believe when I heard it, that we got both Arrieta and Pedro," Gregg said. "That's two big pickoffs. Stuff-wise, you're looking at two good arms."
The Cubs sent Scott Feldman to the Orioles for Arrieta and Strop, and dealt Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers for Guerrier. Strop and Guerrier were expected to join the team and be in the bullpen on Wednesday, while Arrieta will go to Triple-A Iowa.
"Strop had a great year last year, and was part of the best bullpen in baseball," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "This year has not been going so good. I guess he was on the [disabled list] with back problems. We're getting a power arm. Guerrier will be a guy you can use in multiple roles, like [Carlos] Villanueva is for us now."
Gregg said both Arrieta and Strop have good arms and a good mix of pitches.
"Pedro is a great bullpen guy," Gregg said. "He had an outstanding year last year and just got in a funk this year. I think it'll be good to get him here and get him pitching. He needs to pitch more to be successful."
In 2012, Strop compiled a 2.44 ERA in a career-high 70 games, striking out 58 over 66 1/3 innings. He had a 7.25 ERA in 29 games this season with the Orioles.
Maybe the right-hander needs a change of scenery?
"It could be good for him," Gregg said of Strop. "He left Texas and came to Baltimore and did outstanding, and then got in a funk again. When he came to Baltimore, we weren't winning, and he got in a groove and ran with it. He had a couple rough outings and got pushed to the side a little. I'm excited. It's a great pickup for the Cubs."
Gregg also talked to Guerrier this spring about his role. The newest Cubs pitcher had a 4.80 ERA in 34 appearances with the Dodgers.
"He's a solid reliever who has been there, done that," Gregg said of the right-hander. "The change of scenery could help him, too. We talked a little in Spring Training because he was under the microscope in spring with the situation the way it was there."
Arrieta, who will likely start at Triple-A Iowa, is athletic, has a 97-mph fastball and a 91-mph slider, Sveum said.
"Those are the kind of things you're trying to get in the organization," Sveum said.
• With Scott Feldman gone via trade to Baltimore, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Carlos Villanueva will be stretched out to move back in the rotation.
Feldman was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but lefty Chris Rusin was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take his spot. Villanueva began the season in the rotation and made eight starts before he was moved to the bullpen to make room for Matt Garza. Villanueva was 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA in eight starts, and has a 2.40 ERA in 15 relief appearances.
Villanueva will need time to get stretched out, and most likely won't be ready to start until mid-July, Sveum said.
Feldman will make his first start for the Orioles on Wednesday against the White Sox.
• Starlin Castro batted .167 in June, the worst month of his young career. The shortstop has gotten into some bad habits, Sveum said.
"He's just got to slow things down and get in a better position to hit like he did when he first got here," Sveum said.
• Rusin was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team on Tuesday. The game will be played July 17 in Reno. The lefty compiled a 7-7 record and 3.27 ERA in 17 games (16 starts), and leads the PCL in innings pitched.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.