Carlos Marmol regains closer role

Updated: June 15, 2012, 11:47 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs restored Carlos Marmol as their closer on Friday, and he survived a bases-loaded ninth inning to nail down his first save since May 2 in the series opener against the Boston Red Sox.

Marmol got out of the bases-loaded jam by getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out to third base to end the game, but not before manager Dale Sveum paid him a visit on the mound to talk about his pitch selection.

"He didn't tell me any nice thing," Marmol said. "He let me (stay in). It was nice, and I appreciate it. He said to just throw strikes, 'I don't want to take you out of the game, let's go.'"

Marmol lost the closer job on May 4 after blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds. To that point he had converted just two of five save chances and had a 6.23 ERA with 12 walks in 8 2/3 innings. The Cubs never found a consistent replacement, using Rafael Dolis, James Russell and Shawn Camp at times in Marmol's place.

Sveum and the coaching staff made the decision on Wednesday to make Marmol the closer again, but the role was not necessary during the last two games of the series against the Detroit Tigers.

"We made a conscious effort a couple days ago (to let Marmol close) because the way things had been going to solidify the bullpen," Sveum said.

After signing a three-year, $21 million contract before the 2011 season, Marmol had great success until overuse got the better of his once dominating slider and electric four-seam fastball. Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio suggested the pitcher use a sinking fastball in mid-March. Although he had marginal success with the pitch Marmol continued to frustrate his manager by going back to the slider too often.

"(Marmol's use of his slider) wasn't as bad as we've seen in the past," Sveum said. "At least he has some conviction with his fastball now when he throws it, not like I am going to waste it and go back to my slider."

Marmol had the most appearances of any pitcher in baseball from 2008-11 and had the most back-to-back outings (27 ) of any reliever in '11. That type of workload took away from his once-dominant 95 mph fastball.

"I think I threw a lot more fastballs," said Marmol, whose 127 strikeouts in 2010 were a franchise record for a reliever. "(I threw it) especially late in the inning and to Pedroia. I feel great with it right now."

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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