Cubs stick with Gregg, but only for ninth
Piniella learns closer's knee tightens up in other situations
MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Marmol got a lot of phone calls from family and friends who assumed that since he was called on in a save situation Saturday, he was now the Cubs' closer.
Not so, Lou Piniella said.
"[Kevin] Gregg is our closer," Piniella repeated on Sunday, but then revealed that he is a little limited in how he can use the right-hander, who is 1-for-2 so far in save opportunities.
"I found out an interesting piece of information on Gregg that I didn't know about, and it's that once I get him up and don't use him, his knee tightens up on him," Piniella said of the pitcher, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after the 2008 season. "I can't get him up, down by one run, and then all of a sudden I lose him for later on or he's not as effective later on.
"What you'll see probably from Gregg also is I won't use him at all in the eighth inning. He sits here [in the dugout] and then he goes out there and his knee is a little tighter in the ninth. I wasn't aware of that, and that was communicated to me by the trainer and by Gregg yesterday."
Gregg did pitch more than one inning in an outing in Spring Training, but the weather was warmer then. His situation could change later in the season, but as of now, Gregg is the pitcher for the ninth only.
It's not that Gregg has a problem with the knee itself, but the muscles that support it.
As for Marmol, he understands his primary role is as the setup pitcher and part-time closer.
"A lot of people called and said, 'Did [Piniella] change his mind?'" Marmol said. "The only thing I can control is to do the best I can."
Piniella did explain to both Gregg and Marmol this spring that there would be opportunities for both to save games this season.
"[On Saturday night], an opportunity presented itself, and Marmol passed it with flying colors," Piniella said of the right-hander's performance in the ninth, preserving a 6-5 Cubs win. Marmol struck out Ryan Braun and got Prince Fielder looking at strike three to end the game.
Can Marmol share the job?
"Why not?" Marmol said. "We're together. We're going to do what we can to help the team."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.