Carlos Marmol isn’t guaranteed return to closer role
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 8, 2012 11:58PM
Chicago Cubs Vs Atlanta Braves. 9Th-Inning. Chicago Cubs No. 12 Alfonso Soriano reacts to the 3rd strikeout. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: June 11, 2012 9:23AM
Despite the widely held assumption that Carlos Marmol’s return to the Cubs’ closer role is only a matter of time, manager Dale Sveum left open the possibility that Marmol might not return to the role at all.
‘‘I’m not going to make a change to make a change,’’ said Sveum, who has used Rafael Dolis and James Russell as a right-left closer committee since demoting Marmol on Friday. ‘‘If Dolis is doing well, and Russell in that role, whatever. I’m not going to make a change to make a change if things are going really well.’’
Marmol, who signed a three-year, $20 million deal after a record-setting 2010, would become one of the most expensive setup men in the game if he’s unable to win back the closer job.
Asked specifically Tuesday when Marmol would go back to closing, Sveum said: ‘‘I didn’t say he did have to. I’m just saying that there’s a possibility. I mean, if he’s throwing well, and he’s throwing his fastball, and he shows me he’s capable of doing it again ...’’
Marmol walked the first two batters he faced in Monday’s eighth inning with a 3-1 lead — drawing a heavy torrent of boos — before escaping without allowing a run.
Sveum liked the finish but was irked by the start, in particular the 3-2 slider Marmol threw for ball four to Michael Bourn leading off.
‘‘We’ve talked about it,’’ Sveum said of the fastball-first mentality he and pitching coach Chris Bosio are trying to instill in Marmol. ‘‘It almost got him in trouble [Monday] night, again, on a 3-2 slider to a guy that can’t hit the ball out of the ballpark. Those are the things that I want to start seeing before I put him back in the closer’s role — to be able to throw a 3-2 fastball and see how far it can get hit.’’
Team president Theo Epstein said the team is down to a list of about 10 players it’s considering for the No. 6 overall pick in the draft less than four weeks from now.
‘‘It’s probably the most important thing that we’re doing right now to be honest,’’ Epstein said of the preparation for the June 4-6 draft.
The Cubs are expected to focus more on restocking the depleted pitching side of the system through this year’s draft.
Ryan Dempster has gone 14 consecutive starts without a win, dating to Aug. 11. He has 11 quality starts in that span, including all five this year. ‘‘It’s a shame,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘It’s almost May 10 and not having a win with a [1.02] earned run average ... hard to believe.’’
◆ Catcher Steve Clevenger (oblique) threw for the first time since his injury and hopes to start taking dry swings later this week.