ATLANTA – It took less than a week for Carlos Marmol to lose his closer job this time around. And this time, he might not be given a chance to get it back.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday morning that former Japanese All-Star closer Kyuji Fujikawa will take over the closer role, and could be available as soon as Sunday afternoon’s game against the Atlanta Braves – less than 24 hours after Marmol gave up a pair of ninth-inning home runs in a blown save and loss to the Braves.
“Hopefully, Fujikawa takes it and runs with it,” Sveum said. “That’s one of the reasons we signed him, in case something like this happened.”
Fujikawa signed a two-year, $9.5 million deal over the winter, and the club insisted at the time he was a setup man and not signed to take Marmol’s job.
If it wasn’t Fujikawa, it would have been somebody else. Marmol left little choice after pitching poorly his final three outings of the spring and even worse his first three outings of the season – putting nine men on base, allowing five earned runs and retiring just four batters in that span.
Neither Marmol nor Fujikawa – who didn’t pitch well his last outing, Saturday – have been told this is long-term, much less permanent.
Marmol is in the final year of a deal that pays him $9.8 million this year, and the club has long tried to trade him – backing out of a deal last fall that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Angels for pitcher Dan Haren after examining Haren’s medical records.
“I don’t know,” Marmol said of getting a chance to return to his role. “The only thing I care about is winning here. If this is the way we’ve got to do it, let’s do it. …
“I’m good. My body’s good. Everybody knows what I need to work on – locate my pitches. … I’m not going to put my head down.”
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 mindset 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 Sveum said the job could be his indefinitely, Fujikawa said, “I haven’t heart that. But it’s one ame at a time. My job is to go out and do the best job possible for the team.”