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Sveum praises Marmol as spring winds down

Sveum praises Marmol as spring winds down

MESA, Ariz. -- In 2004, Keith Foulke gave up 15 earned runs in nine Spring Training innings for a 15.00 ERA with the Red Sox. Cubs manager Dale Sveum, then on Boston's 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.

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"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. 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."

In 2011, Marmol compiled a 2.00 ERA in nine spring games, giving up two earned runs on five hits over nine innings. Last spring, he served up seven runs on eight hits over 8 1/3 innings. This spring, he's been charged with five earned runs on nine hits over 9 2/3 innings.

The Cubs do have Kyuji Fujikawa in camp. The Japanese right-hander was a closer for 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers 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 is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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