Results tagged ‘ Carlos Marmol ’
* Monday’s crowd of 40,083 was the smallest at Wrigley Field for a home opener since the team drew 40,077 on April 13, 2009.
* With the 7-4 loss to the Brewers Monday, the Cubs now are 52-45-1 in 98 home openers at Wrigley Field. Overall, the home team has gone 54-45-1 in 100 openers at the ballpark, which was the home field for the Federals/Whales for two seasons before the Cubs.
* The Cubs now have lost their last three home openers, and are 2-5 in the last seven dating to 2007.
* Alfonso Soriano recorded his first multi-hit game on Monday, but still does not have an RBI. He has hit safely in his last four games. Welington Castillo has hit safely in his last three games.
* Edwin Jackson took the loss, and is the first Cubs pitcher to start the home opener not named Ryan Dempster since 2009. Jackson also is the first pitcher to make his first Cubs start at Wrigley in the home opener since Ted Lilly did so, April 9, 2007.
– Carrie Muskat
* Theo Epstein fully supported Dale Sveum’s decision to change closers and switch to Kyuji Fujikawa in place of Carlos Marmol.
“I think he made the right call,” Epstein said. “Marmol bounced back last year to have a really solid second half. Of course, he should’ve started this year as our closer. You don’t lose your job after two bad outings at the end of Spring Training. To do that would be counter to everything we believe in. He pitched really poorly three times to start the year,” Epstein said. “It was important for the team to make a change. We need to believe we can win these close games late. For Marmol, last year, he went back after struggling, fixed himself and came back and contributed. We need to be open to that possibility again.”
Sveum said they want Marmol to work on his pitch selection, and not get “fastball happy.”
* Darwin Barney has been cleared to do all baseball activities, but won’t get the stitches removed from his left knee until later this week. Barney, on the disabled list with a knee laceration suffered March 30 in the last exhibition game, was able to participate in all drills in batting practice. If all goes well, Barney will begin a rehab assignment this weekend at one of the Minor League teams, and then could be activated April 16.
* Matt Garza, who threw 35 pitches in his second bullpen on Sunday in Atlanta, will throw a couple more bullpen sessions and then was expected to begin a Minor League rehab assignment. Garza has been sidelined since Feb. 17 with a strained left lat. He’s hoping to return in May.
* Last season, Cubs fans had to deal with a 101-loss season. Most understood the growing pains of the team’s rebuilding process. Does Sveum expect fans to be patient this year?
“You can only have so much patience,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they were great to us in hard times last year and understanding the process in the organization. There’s only so much you can take, especially when you have some of the best fans in the country and passionate. It’s not just Chicago — we have a following throughout the whole country. The patience has to give way sometimes — that’s just the nature of the beast.”
There’s no truth to the rumor that Epstein’s hair turned gray since he took over as Cubs president of baseball operations.
“Ten years in Boston will do that to you,” Epstein said of the flecks of gray. “Lots of blown saves. I remember my first road trip with the Red Sox, we opened on the road in ’03, we blew a save Opening Day, blew another one in Toronto, blew another one in Baltimore. They might have sprouted back then. It’s not a new development.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Alfonso Soriano talked to Carlos Marmol after the right-hander struggled on Opening Day.
“I told him, ‘Don’t lose your confidence,’” Soriano said. “It’s a long season and he has to keep working and that’s the only way you can get better is to keep working and
not lose your confidence because when you lose your confidence, everything goes negative. I tried to give him some motivation because he’s part of the team. We need him. He’ll be all right, he’ll be OK.”
* On Sunday, Dale Sveum said Kyuji Fujikawa will be the Cubs closer. The Japanese right-hander says he’s ready for whenever the Cubs need him.
“My job is to pitch whenever I’m asked,” Fujikawa said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “I didn’t have a good outing [Saturday]. I’m going to try to go back out there, and it’s a long season, I’m trying to make it as positive as possible.”
He was a closer for Hanshin for 12 years. Did he ever lose his job the way Marmol has?
“No,” Fujikawa said.
* Second baseman Darwin Barney hopes to have the stitches removed from his left knee on Monday. Barney suffered a knee laceration in the final exhibition game March 30 in Houston and is on the disabled list. He has been able to take batting practice and was going to ride a stationary bike on Sunday.
“He’s able to bend his knee all the way now,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s been hitting and taking ground balls straight at him. He’ll be ready to go, just guessing five days from now, and be back with us after the off day [April 15].”
Barney was expected to get some at-bats at Class A Kane County this week.
* Ian Stewart, on the disabled list with a strained left quad, went 1-for-4 on Saturday in Mesa during an extended Spring Training game. He was the designated hitter, and had no setbacks, Sveum said. After an off day Sunday, Stewart was expected to get another four to six at-bats on Monday in Mesa. He could begin a rehab assignment in one week.
* Matt Garza, sidelined with a strained left lat, threw his second bullpen on Sunday. He was not expected to return until May.
– Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol is no longer the Cubs closer, and Kyuji Fujikawa is taking over the job. Cubs manager Dale Sveum met Sunday with both pitchers to give them the news. The Cubs had a 5-1 lead Saturday against the Braves but lost, 6-5, when Marmol served up game-tying and game-winning home runs in the ninth to B.J. Upton and Justin Upton, respectively.
Is there a chance Marmol could reclaim the job this year?
“Yeah, there’s a chance,” Sveum said. “Hopefully, Fujikawa takes it and runs with it and does a great job and we don’t have to deal with it. Marmol’s going to pitch in less stressful situations and get his confidence back. You still have seven guys in the bullpen, so he’s obviously going to pitch and end up pitching quite a bit in situations.”
Marmol wasn’t going to give up on getting the job back.
“I’m not going to put my head down,” he said. “Everybody knows what I need to work on, locate my pitches. That’s the thing I need to do.”
The Cubs did have in-house options such as Shawn Camp and James Russell. Fujikawa signed with the Cubs after being the closer in Hanshin for 12 seasons. Asked if he’d ever lost his job there, Fujikawa said, “No.”
“That’s one reason we signed him, in case something like this happened,” Sveum said. “He’s comfortable in getting the last three outs. It’s just kind of the logical thing to do instead of thinking you’re going to do it by committee or anything like that.”
– Carrie Muskat
Last May, Cubs manager Dale Sveum removed Carlos Marmol as the closer, and used James Russell and Rafael Dolis. The Cubs didn’t have that many save opportunities, and Marmol then went on the disabled list May 12 with a strained hamstring. He was reinstated as the closer when he returned in late May but the Cubs told Marmol he could not shake off his catcher. It seemed to work. After compiling a 5.61 ERA in 31 games before the All-Star break last year, Marmol had a 1.52 ERA in 30 games in the second half.
In his three appearances this season, it’s been a struggle for Marmol. He’s retired four of the 13 batters he’s faced in three games. Teams are batting .600 against him, and he’s given up five runs on six hits in 10 at-bats, including the two home runs. Right-handed hitters are 5-for-5 with two walks. Marmol also has shown a pattern that scouts are probably picking up. He throws first-pitch fastballs to batters 80 percent of the time, and when he’s ahead in the count, he’ll go to his slider 75 percent of the time. If he has two strikes, he’ll also throw his slider 90.9 percent.
What are Sveum’s options? Shawn Camp is 12-for-28 in his career in save situations. He had two saves in 2012, his last one coming Aug. 26 against the Rockies in a 5-0 win.
Russell is 2-for-9 in career save opportunities, picking up both last season. He was 0-2 in save situations in 2010 and again in 2011.
By the way, this is the last year of Marmol’s three-year, $20 million contract that will pay him $9.8 million this season.
* About last night: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Justin and B.J. Upton are the first brothers in Major League history to hit a game-tying and walk-off home run in the same inning. The two brothers connected off Marmol in the ninth to give the Braves a 6-5 win over the Cubs. The Uptons are the first brothers to hit a home run in the same inning since Cal and Billy Ripken did so in 1996 with the Orioles.
“That’s what you dream about — to be on the field and have that big at-bat and to come through for your team,” Justin said. “You can’t beat that.”
– Carrie Muskat
It’s only five games into the season, but Carlos Marmol may have lost his job as the Cubs closer.
B.J. Upton led off the ninth with a game-tying home run off Marmol and his brother, Justin, followed one out later with a walk-off blast, his second homer of the game and fifth of the season, to lift the Braves to a 6-5 victory Saturday night over the Cubs.
Dale Sveum said they would discuss Marmol’s role, and may consider using Shawn Camp or James Russell as closer. Set-up pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa didn’t have his split-finger pitch, and was roughed up as well, giving up three runs on four hits in one inning. Marmol now has served up five runs on six hits over 1 2/3 innings in three games for a 27.00 ERA.
“We’re definitely going to talk about it now,” Sveum said about Marmol’s situation. “Fujikawa struggled, too.
“You’ve got Camp and Russell, who seem to be pretty efficient when they pitch,” Sveum said. “They’ve never had to do the last three outs of the game.”
It’s tough to pinpoint Marmol’s problems.
“I don’t know whether it’s mechanical, the arm angle or what,” Sveum said. “When he throws strikes, he’s getting hit now, too.”
Trailing 5-4 in the ninth against Marmol, B.J. Upton launched a 3-1 pitch to straightaway center. After Jason Heyward flew out, Justin, who had homered in the first, drove a 1-2 pitch to center for the game-winner. This was the first time the brothers have homered in the same game with the Braves, and the 25th time in baseball history that brother teammates have connected in the same game.
Marmol said the problem was locating his pitches.
“I tried to do my best,” he said. “I’m trying. I’m trying to do my best. I’ve got my confidence. They hit my pitch.”
– Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol most likely will keep it interesting in the ninth inning the rest of the season. At least, he listened to his pitching coach. The Pirates had two on and one out in the ninth Thursday, and had closed to within two runs against Marmol, who had been pulled from Monday’s game after failing to convert a save. Chicago pitching coach Chris Bosio then went to the mound. The message?
“Strike him out and get a ground ball,” Marmol said, “and that’s exactly what happened.”
Well, not exactly. Marmol gave up a RBI single to Gaby Sanchez, then struck out Pedro Alvarez and finally got Neil Walker to ground into a game-ending double play as the Cubs held on for a 3-2 victory Thursday, taking the first series of the season.
Said Dale Sveum on Marmol: “He was OK. It didn’t seem that way, but it wasn’t too bad.”
The Cubs didn’t exactly solve their offensive struggles Thursday, but were more efficient. Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth and Starlin Castro delivered a two-out RBI single in the third to back Travis Wood, who tossed six scoreless innings.
The Cubs entered the game 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in their first two games. Castro ended the skid in the third. With two outs and Wood at second after a single and groundout, Castro delivered a RBI single to center off James McDonald (0-1). Schierholtz homered in the ninth off Jared Hughes, and drove in Anthony Rizzo, who had walked and stole second. It was Schierholtz’s first home run since Aug. 1, when he connected off current teammate Edwin Jackson, who was pitching for the Nationals at the time.
With the win, the Cubs claimed their first season-opening series victory since the start of the 2009 season, when they took two of three against the Astros.
“Our goal is to win every game, and win every series,” Schiernholtz said. “It’s a good start.”
– Carrie Muskat
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
Jeff Samardzija looked like an Opening Day veteran, not first-timer. Anthony Rizzo, who didn’t hit a home run in any Cactus League games, launched the first pitch he saw in the regular season out of PNC Park for a two-run blast. And Carlos Marmol was pulled in the ninth and Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa got the save. The end result: The Cubs held on for a 3-1 win Monday over the Pirates in the season opener and manager Dale Sveum did his best to downplay any closer controversy.
Marmol struck out the first batter he faced in the ninth. But then he hit Andrew McCutchen, who stole second and scored on Pedro Alvarez’s single to center. After Marmol walked Gaby Sanchez, Sveum turned to James Russell, who induced Neil Walker to pop up to to right field. Fujikawa, making his Major League debut, came on to get Russell Martin to fly out to center to earn the save.
“That’s part of the ninth inning,” Sveum said. “Those last three outs are hard to get no matter who’s on the mound. Marmol didn’t really have it today so I went to a couple other guys to get those last two outs.”
Sveum isn’t abandoning Marmol.
“He’s still the closer,” Sveum said. “I’m not making any changes or anything like that, he just didn’t have it today.”
Fujikawa, who was a closer for 12 seasons with Hanshin, is not trying to take Marmol’s job.
“That’s nothing I can control,” he said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “My job is to get the three outs I’m asked for — three outs, four outs.”
Sometimes, one out.
“Lucky man,” Fujikawa said, in English.
Marmol, who threw 19 pitches, nine for strikes, got a visit from pitching coach Chris Bosio after Alvarez’s single. The closer said he was a little surprised to see Sveum after he walked Sanchez.
“That’s why you need teammates, that’s why you need a team, to pick me up,” Marmol said. “That’s what a team does.”
Did he have problems with his command?
“A little bit,” Marmol said. “I felt fine, though. My slider command was good. … It’s one bad day. It happened on the first day.”
– Carrie Muskat
In 2004, Keith Foulke gave up 15 earned runs in nine Spring Training innings for a 15.00 ERA. Cubs manager Dale Sveum, then on the Red Sox coaching staff, called it “the worst Spring Training in the history of the game.” That year, Foulke saved 32 games for the Red Sox, and helped them win a World Series.
“That’s why you don’t put too much emphasis on Spring Training,” Sveum said Wednesday.
Which is why Sveum wasn’t too upset after Carlos Marmol’s rough outing Tuesday night against the Reds. Marmol had not given up an earned run in his seven outings before Tuesday when he failed to retire any of the six batters he faced. The right-hander was charged with three earned runs on six hits and one walk. In his seven previous outings, he had given up four hits. Marmol’s spring ERA went from 1.86 to 4.66 after the outing, which isn’t close to being Foulke-like.
“He’s been throwing strikes with his fastball,” Sveum said of Marmol. “[Tuesday], he got hit a little bit but it’s still strikes and he’s doing a pretty good job. He had four outings in a row where I think the most pitches he threw were 12.
“There’s no worries there,” he said. “It’s Spring Training, just like you don’t worry about one of your core hitters struggling in Spring Training because Opening Day is a different animal with adrenaline and focus and everything gets better.”
The Cubs do have Kyuji Fujikawa in camp. The Japanese right-hander was a closer for 12 seasons with Hanshin, and will be used to close if Marmol needs a breather. But Fujikawa isn’t taking Marmol’s job.
“Anybody can lose their job at any time during the season, but there’s one thing you don’t get caught up in — you don’t get caught up in guys’ track records in Spring Training or what’s going on in Spring Training,” Sveum said. “The adrenaline factor and all that — you don’t ever forget what [Marmol] did the last three months of the season last year.”
After the All-Star break, Marmol posted a 1.52 ERA in 30 games, and saved 12 of 13 opportunities.
– Carrie Muskat