Nothing close and shut about Cubs’ closer situation
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carlos Marmol, left, talks on the mound during a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
CINCINNATI -- Maybe the Cubs will sign rehabbing Brian Wilson or trade for Matt Capps or try to lure Jason Isringhausen out of retirement.
Until then, everybody in the Cubs bullpen is the closer. Which means nobody is.
Manager Dale Sveum said it again Wednesday before the Cubs’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds.
“I think [having one closer] helps everything in the long run,” Sveum said, “but it also helps putting people in the matchups and situations where they can succeed in a better fashion. Those last three outs – it’s a whole ‘nother animal.”
A predatory beast for the boys in his pen.
After having three closers try and fail in just the first two weeks of the season (with Kyuji Fujikawa adding elbow injury to insult), Sveum’s in no rush to declare anybody the closer again – especially not with his bullpen plodding along with the worst save percentage in the league (4-for-10), and five guys already charged with blown saves.
When told that recently acquired Kevin Gregg wants the job, Sveum said, “I don’t know about that. A lot of people want things.”
Those people include Marmol, who has pitched a lot better since that first-week demotion.
“Everybody knows I want my job back. That’s not any surprise,” said Marmol, the $9.8-million reliever who figures a return to the role must be just a matter of time for him. “Gotta be. …
“I can’t make that decision,” he added. “I’m feeling great. I’m still working and try to pitch good every time out. I know what I’ve got. I believe in myself.
The fact that Carlos Marmol was in the game in the ninth, trying to hold a 2-1 lead Tuesday night, Sveum said, was all about Marmol’s 1-for-15, 9-strikeout career dominance over Joey Votto – the guy who greeted him with a ground-ball single past Darwin Barney for the tying RBI.
The fact Gregg was in the game in the 10th after the Cubs retook the lead was about the matchups at the bottom of the Reds’ order and their bench players – and, maybe, just a little about Gregg’s closer experience.
“You look at the situation at hand, and it is what it is,” Gregg said, talking about his desire to return to the role he had with the Cubs in 2009. ( before his own demotion that summer opened the way for Marmol’s ascent – and eventual $20 million contract.
“Ask Dale what he’s going to do. … For me, [the final-inning pressure] is an awesome thing. I enjoy that. That’s a lot of weight on your shoulders when you’re out there in that situation. I love it. I love that pressure. I love what comes with it, being able to carry home a victory for the team.”
What’s Dale going to do? We already know: nothing.
He’s made that much clear. No closer controversy to see here.