Notes: Marmol callup signifies changes
Pressure on 'pen to improve; Piniella experiences Cubs-Sox
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella has some surprises in store.
Piniella wouldn't reveal any secrets, but apparently there are changes ahead for the pitching staff, which actually began Friday when right-hander Carlos Marmol was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs have an off-day Monday before starting a West Coast trip, and Piniella was asked if the rotation was going to change.
"We're going to make some changes here with our alignment," Piniella said. "We'll have some interesting things for you on Monday or Tuesday."
Marmol's arrival gives the Cubs 12 pitchers. The right-hander was 4-1 with a 3.95 ERA in eight games (seven starts) for Iowa, and walked 12 while striking out 48 in 41 innings. He threw 15 pitches in a relief appearance Thursday to tune up.
Marmol made his Major League debut last season, going 5-7 with a 6.08 ERA in 19 games, including 13 starts.
"It was a good experience," he said of last season. "It gave me a chance to pitch."
The Cubs bullpen has struggled, and was 2-11 after Thursday's gut-wrenching loss to the New York Mets. That's the worst record for a National League bullpen, the most losses by any team's relievers.
"You can't do anything about yesterday," Piniella said. "Yesterday was yesterday. You have to go out and toughen it out today and win a baseball game. We're going to make some changes, believe me. You see Marmol coming in here today and that's part of it. We're going to make some changes, and you'll all know in due time."
Penmanship: Piniella hasn't been shy about expressing his frustration after losses.
"Whatever he has to say about it can't be any worse than what I would think about myself after going out there and not getting the job done," Cubs reliever Bob Howry said. "I think I put more pressure on myself than anyone else would put on me. I have high expectations of what I can do, and when you don't get it done, yeah, you get [angry]."
Howry set a career high in appearances last season with the Cubs when he pitched in 84 games. He's 0-3 with a 4.58 ERA in 17 games so far. Howry said his struggles are not because he was overworked last season.
"That's not true," he said. "I want someone to prove to me that that's the reason why."
So is it location?
"To an extent, it has to be location," Howry said. "I'm sure it's a combination of things. I've walked more guys than I'm used to walking, so yeah, that's location. Maybe I've tried throwing too many offspeed pitches this year. Who knows? All I know is my style is to go after guys with fastballs and attack them and make them put the ball in play. I know at times I've gotten away from that. I have to go back to doing what I know how to do."
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said the relievers' velocity appears to be off.
"For whatever reason, our velocity out of the 'pen has been a little inconsistent," Hendry said. "It's obviously frustrating. You have a lot of guys [who] usually do well and are doing so in spurts. It seems one guy has a bad one at the wrong time."
It's been a tough week for the bullpen. The Cubs went 2-5 on this last road trip, and Howry, Michael Wuertz and Ryan Dempster each suffered a loss.
"It's been a tough year for the 'pen," Howry said. "We've got to get it turned around."
Play nice: This is Piniella's first Cubs-White Sox series, and he admitted Friday that he hadn't thought much about it until now.
"To me, we look forward to competing against our crosstown rivals," Piniella said. "I never thought about the White Sox until today. We had our hands full with the Mets."
Bragging rights may be important to fans. Piniella is looking at the bigger picture.
"I think now, we have to straighten our situation out, that's what we need to do," he said. "That's the most important thing."
Staying hydrated: Angel Guzman, who had to leave Thursday's game because of cramps in his right hamstring, was examined by a doctor Friday. He was told the same thing he's been told for the last few years: Drink water.
"They said keep drinking water and eat bananas -- that's all," Guzman said.
Guzman had problems with cramps in his forearm last year, and it forced him out of a start. The right-hander is still waiting for that first big-league win. He was close Thursday, but the bullpen couldn't hold a four-run lead.
"I know the guys in the bullpen and trust them to get the job done," Guzman said. "I trust them."
Extra bases: Wade Miller will likely make another injury rehab assignment. He rejoined the Cubs on Tuesday. ... Aramis Ramirez leads National League third basemen with 31 RBIs. ... The Cubs entered Friday's game with a 70-75 record in Interleague Play. ... Ron Santo was to sing during the seventh-inning stretch Friday. John Cusack was scheduled for Saturday.
Minor matters: Sean Marshall gave up one run on two hits over eight innings in Iowa's 9-2 win over Oklahoma on Thursday. It was Marshall's longest outing of the season. Ronny Cedeno had three hits and Felix Pie had two hits and two RBIs. Since his return to Iowa on May 10, Pie was batting .441. ... Justin Berg gave up two runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings in Double-A Tennessee's 3-2 loss to Mississippi. Jake Fox had three hits, all doubles. He leads the Southern League with a .636 slugging percentage. ... Tyler Colvin hit his third home run in Class A Daytona's 6-3 loss to Jupiter. Colvin had two RBIs. Grant Johnson suffered his second blown save of the year. He gave up three runs on two hits in the seventh. ... Jose Pina gave up one run on four hits over six innings in Class A Peoria's 2-1 loss to Beloit. Josh Lansford and Russ Canzler each had two hits.
In roster moves, Tennessee has added left-hander Jerry Blevins to its roster. He was promoted from Daytona, where he was 1-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 15 games. As part of the roster move, the Smokies have sent infielder Brian Dopirak and pitcher Tim Layden to Daytona. Also, Ryan Harvey was sent to the Cubs' extended spring facility in Mesa, Ariz., because he reinjured his hamstring. In 11 games at Daytona, Harvey was hitting .250 (11-for-44) with two homers and five RBIs. He has not played since May 7.
On deck: Jason Marquis will start Game 2 of this weekend series against the White Sox on Saturday, facing Javier Vazquez. Marquis lost to the Sox last season in an Interleague game, giving up four homers among 14 hits. First pitch is scheduled for 2:55 p.m. CT.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.