Three closer candidates see action

Three closer candidates see action

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella may want to announce who his closer is soon just so he doesn't have to answer the questions anymore.

On Tuesday, all three candidates -- Kerry Wood, Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol -- pitched in the Cubs' 6-4 loss to the Athletics. Of the three, Wood had the most efficient outing, facing three batters. Howry went two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on two hits, while Marmol finished the game, flashing his best slider this spring. Marmol gave up one hit and one walk while striking out the side.

Howry, who has an 11.57 ERA this spring, and Scott Eyre are slated to pitch again Wednesday for their first back-to-back work.

"With Howry, we just have to be patient and get him work," Piniella said of the right-hander who has the most experience as a closer of the three. "I know what he can do, and I'm not concerned."

Piniella said everyone needs to be patient regarding the closer issue. It's still undecided.

"I don't know exactly what we're going to do," he said. "Do we have to make that decision today? I don't think so. I'm going to utilize the pitchers the same way in the next week or 10 days, whether one guy is a seventh-inning guy, one guy is the eighth-inning guy, or the sixth-inning guy, or the fifth-inning guy or the 12th-inning guy.

"It's getting too specialized for me," Piniella said. "Pretty soon, you'll be asking me who my sixth-inning pinch-hitter is, and who my eighth-inning pinch-hitter is, and if we played 13 innings, who leads off the 13th."

Piniella promised that when the Cubs do make a decision, the media will be the first to know. Right. What is certain is that Wood isn't campaigning for the job.

"It really doesn't matter to me," the right-hander said. "They'll make their decision in the next whenever."

Wood, healthy for the first time since 2003, didn't show up in camp expecting to get the job.

"I haven't made it a goal," he said. "I'm trying to get ready for a 162-game season. I'm going to be ready to pitch every day if he asks. Whatever job I get, I get, and I'll try to do it to the best of my ability."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.