Despite struggles in opener, Marmol remains closer

Despite struggles in opener, Marmol remains closer

PITTSBURGH -- 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."

Last season, Marmol got off to a rough start, posting a 5.61 ERA in the first half, but finished strong, compiling a 1.52 ERA in his final 30 games. Bosio said Marmol was aggressive with his fastball, but his command wasn't sharp.

"That's the guy he knows he's capable of being, and that's the guy we're hoping he'll be," Bosio said. "The only way to find out [if he's back on track] is to get him right back out there."

Wednesday won't be easy. It was cold on Monday, and it was even colder Wednesday at PNC Park.

"It was a little chilly for the players, especially holding a baseball," Bosio said of the conditions on Opening Day. "Hey, it's cold. We get it. But be aggressive in the zone as best you can. He competed, he was frustrated, but at the same time, relieved because we won the game.

"The bottom line is getting wins right now," Bosio added. "I don't care what the score is, how we do it. We're trying to get wins to build momentum. It would've been nice, and I know Carlos wanted to have a 1-2-3 inning, but it didn't happen, and [James] Russell came in and picked Carlos up, and Fujikawa came in and picked Russell up. It was a great win for Opening Day for us and a guy who made a great start. ... I thought it was a good team effort all the way around. Carlos did get a big out there as Russell did and Fujikawa did."

Marmol did say after the game he was surprised to be pulled.

"In a perfect scenario, you'd love for it to go smooth and we win that game, 3-0, but baseball doesn't work like that," Bosio said. "There are things that happen along the way. Bottom line right now is winning games. There are going to be some hiccups along the way, whether it's getting a bunt down, a ground ball, a popup, a throw from the outfield, a throw from the infield or pitchers throwing strikes. We've got to be able to overcome those things. Good teams overcome those things and win games."

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.