Carlos Marmol out as Cubs closer, Kyuji Fujikawa in
By GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 7, 2013 10:30AM
Updated: April 7, 2013 8:21PM
ATLANTA — What the Cubs will do with Carlos Marmol in the next three or four months isn’t nearly as clear as this: They have no plans to use him as a closer again.
Marmol officially lost his closer job Sunday, just five games into the season, and manager Dale Sveum is in no rush to give him a chance to win it back.
Japanese All-Star closer Kyuji Fujikawa takes over, despite his role in blowing the Cubs’ 5-1 lead in a 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday. He gave up three runs, four hits and a walk in the eighth inning. Marmol allowed two solo homers in the ninth.
“Hopefully, Fujikawa takes it and runs with it and does a great job so we don’t have to even deal with that,” Sveum said. “We signed him for a reason. Obviously, to pitch the eighth and hope everything was going to go well the other way, but we had a guy that if something went haywire, we could put him in the closer’s role. After five days, it’s come to that.”
Fujikawa signed a two-year, $9.5 million deal in December. The club insisted at the time he was a setup man, not Marmol’s replacement.
If it weren’t Fujikawa, it would have been somebody else. Marmol left little choice after pitching poorly in his final three outings of the spring and even worse in first three outings of the season. He has put nine men on base, allowing five earned runs and retiring just four batters.
“I’m good. My body’s good. Everybody knows what I need to work on — locate my pitches,” said Marmol, a former All-Star setup man who set a major-league record for strikeouts per nine innings in 2010. “I’m trying. My heart’s in this. I’m not going to put my head down.”
Marmol is in the final year of a deal that pays him $9.8 million this season, and the club has tried to trade him. It backed out of a deal last fall that would have sent Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels for pitcher Dan Haren after examining Haren’s medical records.
Officials from three other major-league teams said he has no trade value and anticipated little this season.
Marmol was demoted from the closer role for a month last season and for two weeks the year before.
“I don’t know,” Marmol said of getting a chance to close again. “The only thing I care about is winning here. If this is the way we’ve got to do it, let’s do it.
Said Fujikawa, through his interpreter: “My job is to pitch wherever I’m asked. I didn’t have a good outing [Saturday], so I’m trying to go out there and be as positive as possible. It’s a long season.”
“I came into the season in the mind-set as a setup guy, but once Marmol’s condition gets better, he has a chance to come back. So we have to fight through it.”
Told that Sveum said the job could be his indefinitely, Fujikawa said, “I haven’t heard that. But it’s one game at a time. My job is to go out and do the best job possible for the team.”