A fitter Marmol ready for more changes

MESA, Ariz. -- A more svelte appearance isn’t the only change going on with Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

After a rough season in which the right-hander had a major-league leading 10 blown saves and a 6.07 ERA in his 44 save situations, changes definitely were in store.

So while he appears to have lost about 15 pounds from his sturdy frame, he has also made some delivery concessions that showed up in his first official bullpen session of the spring.

Gone is the violent follow through that often left Marmol in terrible fielding position. It was a suggestion from new pitching coach Chris Bosio that appears to have made a difference.

“Bosio’s talked to him about a few mechanical things about his shoulders and keeping his shoulders level and things like that,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He wants to lean back. He wants to crank velocity. He wants to create arm strength through his shoulders and then he just gets out of whack. It’s more just keeping the shoulders in line with the strike zone and I think that’ll help him tremendously.”

If it works, Bosio will have come up with a slight modification that not only can help Marmol’s control, delivery and follow through, it has the potential to return him to being a top-level closer.

Despite his issues in 2011, Marmol still has the lowest opponent’s batting average by a reliever since 2007 (.164). Marmol also has the most strikeouts from a reliever since 2007 with 540. Next on that list is Jonathan Papelbon (400).

Moving forward, Marmol will also be simplifying things by doing away with a pitch.

“We might have just told him to wipe out his cutter he threw last year,” Sveum said. “I think he admits it caused him a lot of problems and got him a little out of whack. He is what he is. He’s an impressive closer but he’s a slider guy with one of the best, unhittable sliders we’ve seen in a long time. That’s what he is.”

If he can forget about 2011 he might be able to be that guy again.

“You don’t want him doing anything Carlos Marmol isn’t used to and I think he’s going to be back to that this year,” Sveum said.