4/3 Extra bases
Carlos Marmol is still the Cubs closer, and pitching coach Chris Bosio would like to see the right-hander get back in a game as soon as possible. Marmol was pulled in the ninth inning of the season opener Monday against the Pirates. He struck out the first batter, then hit a batter, gave up a RBI single, and walked another before he was lifted.
“He’s the closer,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday. “We’ve talked, and he knows he’s got to throw strikes. … When the starter goes eight [innings], you’re going to do whatever you can to save that lead.”
Jeff Samardzija threw eight scoreless innings, and Kyuji Fujikawa got the final out for the save in his first U.S. appearance.
“It’s just one game,” Sveum said, trying to downplay any closer controversy. “We had the opportunity to get matchups in there when Marmol didn’t have his fastball or slider, but it isn’t going to affect anything right now. You just play nine innings.”
* The Cubs signed outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who was released by the Red Sox, and infielder Donnie Murphy, who was let go by the Brewers, to Minor League deals, and both were to report to Triple-A Iowa. Murphy batted .239 in 24 games this spring with Milwaukee, and has a career .205 average in 244 big league games with the Marlins. Sweeney has a career .280 average in the big leagues.
* Cubs pitcher Matt Garza, on the disabled list with a strained left lat, was expected to join the team in Atlanta on Friday and start throwing off the mound. Garza has been limited to playing catch on flat ground since he first felt the discomfort in his side Feb. 17 in a live batting practice session. The good news is Garza has had no problems with his right elbow, which limited him to 18 games last season.
* Carlos Villanueva, who will make his Cubs debut on Saturday, starting against the Braves, threw a simulated game on Tuesday, an off day for the team.
– Carrie Muskat