Marmol exits Cubs game with hand cramp
MRI scheduled, but Sveum says righty isn't concerned
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol was pulled from Tuesday's 6-2 split-squad loss to the Rangers because of a cramp in his right hand and was to undergo an MRI as a precautionary measure.
Marmol started the seventh inning against the Rangers and got the first two batters out, then hit Chris Robinson. Marmol threw two pitches to Mike Olt and manager Dale Sveum noticed the pitcher flexing his right hand. Sveum and athletic trainer Ed Halbur went to the mound and the right-hander was lifted, although Marmol argued to stay in the game.
"When I talked to him, it was something he said he had before and it always seems to happen in Spring Training," Sveum said. "It was a cramp in his hand. There was nothing in his elbow, forearm, nothing like that. He wasn't too worried about it. He said, 'It's fine now, it's gone away,' and he wanted to stay in the game."
This was Marmol's sixth spring appearance and third in a row in which he was not scored upon. In his last three outings, he's given up one hit and walked two while striking out two over 2 2/3 innings. In his previous two outings, he'd been charged with seven runs on six hits over 1 2/3 innings.
Sveum said when he first saw Marmol's reaction after his last pitch, he was worried that the injury was more serious.
"Thank God it was just [a hand cramp] -- that was kind of a throw that looked like an elbow thing," Sveum said.
Mather's versatility a 'dream' for Sveum, Cubs
MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Mather was listed as the designated hitter on Tuesday, which is a little bit of a surprise. You expect to see him at second base or even catching one of these days.
"It's the Mather show," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I told him [Monday] he needs to start working a lot in the middle infield. I'm sure he can catch, too."
He has pitched in the past, throwing two innings in a 20-inning loss to the Mets in 2010 while with the Cardinals.
"Hopefully, we won't see that," Sveum said.
Mather, 29, has impressed the Cubs with his versatility this spring, which could win him a spot on the bench. With left-handed hitters at first, third and in the outfield, the Cubs need another right-handed bat. So far, he's appeared at five positions, and his 13 games played is tied for the team lead. He also was tied for the team lead with 12 hits.
"That's definitely something you look at when you come to a new place is see who's who and see the personnel," Mather said Tuesday. "There's usually an opportunity if there's a lot of lefties here. I knew that coming in."
He came up through the Cardinals' system and was claimed off waivers in 2010 by the Braves. He's appeared in 126 Major League games since '08, getting starts at the corners and in the outfield.
In high school, Mather rarely played the same position two games in a row. His father kept moving him around, telling his son it will help in the end. Sveum has called Mather a "dream" to have on a National League bench.
"Any time someone who is making decisions says that about you is awesome," Mather said. "For me, I just go out there and keep going and keep playing where they want me to play."
He's also a good guy, treating his former team from Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix to a suite at Chase Field for a D-backs-Braves game last year. The prep squad had won the state championship and Mather wanted to reward the players.
He keeps the three gloves in his locker well oiled and ready. If he could pick one position that was a favorite, what would it be?
"Maybe right field, if I had to pick one," he said. "I've spent more time there. They all feel about the same."
Lefty Wood confident he'll work past struggles
MESA, Ariz. -- This is the first spring Travis Wood has struggled, but the Cubs left-hander is sure he can get back on track.
"Things aren't going my way now and I'm trying to work on some new stuff and it's just a battle," Wood said Tuesday, one day after giving up seven runs on seven hits and two walks in two innings against the Mariners.
What he's trying to do is work on throwing pitches in different counts, building a different repertoire. The problem isn't Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio. The two of them were together in 2008 when Wood was in Double-A.
In 4 2/3 innings over three Cactus League games, Wood has served up 13 earned runs on 14 hits and six walks. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the left-hander, who is vying for a spot in the rotation, may make a start in the Minor Leagues this spring.
"Right now, I think it's more confidence than anything," Sveum said. "Hopefully, we could see him get through a quick inning and build confidence through that. Right now, it's a tough time and he can't get through an inning without some damage being done."
The Cubs acquired Wood from the Reds in the Sean Marshall deal. He's been trying to make a good first impression.
"You get traded for a guy like Marshall, who's an outstanding pitcher, and you want to come over here and show what you can do and I haven't been," Wood said. "It's all going to work out. I'm going to get it together and get after it."
Wood's bullpen sessions have been good.
"That's the frustrating part, to go out there and feel so good going into it and things just don't pan out," he said. "I'll get it figured out for sure. I've got to do better."
Manager Dale Sveum and Starlin Castro were watching video on Tuesday, something the Cubs have been doing a lot more this spring than in years past.
"I had it in Boston as a coach and in Milwaukee and it's almost like cheating the way they have it now to be able to advance the other team, the hitters, the pitchers," Sveum said. "You can see, black and white, where guys' weaknesses are, where guys strengths are.
"It's cheating that the Cubs haven't had before that a lot of other teams have had. It's a big advantage. It's a huge advantage to be able to watch and see whether it's positioning, whether it's weaknesses, whether it's strengths. It's very important for players to be able to witness it on video as opposed to a coach saying, 'Hey, go play over here.' When you can show them the video and show them the data, it's very important for that to happen."
The sessions with Castro were about cleaning up some footwork on his pivot at second base plus some discussion about hitting.
"It's nothing major," Sveum said. "Just understanding about hitting with guys in scoring position."
Paul Maholm will pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday at Fitch Park. First baseman Bryan LaHair took advantage of the Minor League games and got eight to nine at-bats there Monday.
Left-hander Chris Rusin was assigned to the Cubs' Minor League camp. That leaves the team with 48 players in camp, including 15 non-roster invitees.
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.