Struggling Marmol removed from closer role
By JAY COHEN
CHICAGO (AP) After watching Carlos Marmol blow another ninth-inning lead in an all-too-familiar fashion, Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided enough was enough.
Sveum brought Marmol into his office Friday morning and told the erratic right-hander he was removing him from the closer's role, deciding to try a committee at the back end of games while hoping someone will step up and seize the job.
"Just told Marmol just be ready to pitch at any time," Sveum said before the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 in the opener of a weekend series at Wrigley Field.
"It just got to that point where we got to get him productive in some role and he was fine with it and understood. Hopefully we can get him going to where give him another chance and get him going to where he can get back in that role."
The move comes one day after a particularly embarrassing blown opportunity in Cincinnati, when Marmol melted down again and the Reds went on to a 4-3 victory in 10 innings.
Ryan Dempster pitched eight innings of three-hit ball before handing a 3-0 lead over to Marmol, who walked the first two hitters he faced in the ninth. Willie Harris then scored on third baseman Ian Stewart's error before Jay Bruce singled to load the bases.
Marmol has two blown saves in four chances this season and a 6.23 ERA in 12 games overall.
"He knows he has to get better and find it but I left that window open for him if he starts pitching well and getting command back and stuff like that there's no reason I wouldn't put him back in the closing role if he finds it again," Sveum said.
Marmol had similar problems last season, when he had a career-worst 10 blown opportunities and finished with a 4.01 ERA in 75 appearances. He is 18-26 for his career with 97 saves in 121 opportunities, all with the Cubs.
"I feel for him a lot," reliever James Russell said. "Our job is to get out there and get him the ball and unfortunately it hasn't been going his way. But he's here for a reason and I'm sure he'll figure it out and it won't be too long before he's out there getting as many saves as he can."
Russell and Dolis figure to get most of the save opportunities in the meantime. Russell, a left-hander, opened the season with nine scoreless appearances before surrendering a run against the Dodgers. Dolis closed out Friday's win for his second save in three chances.
Russell's father, Jeff, had 186 saves over a 14-year career in the majors.
"I like to think closers are a little screwy in the head so maybe he passed that down to me," James Russell said. "It'll be fun. I think you've got to have a little bit of, I don't know, something wrong with you to be a closer and for the most part Carlos has handled it really well."
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
Updated May 4, 2012