06/03/12 2:44 PM ET
Russell fired up by save opportunity
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"It's really exciting," the Cubs left-hander said about closing games.
Russell has a save, his first, and a win in his last two outings, and pumped his arms coming off the mound after both.
"I usually don't show that much emotion but there are times when you get fired up," he said. "If I let everybody know I'm fired up, maybe it'll fire up the guys in the dugout. I like being in those situations."
Of course, Russell's goal is the same, whether he's pitching in the sixth or the ninth.
"It's only because it's later in the game, the last couple innings; that's why it gets blown up," he said. "I see no difference between any of the innings. They're equally important. There's a big aura about the ninth inning for some reason."
Maybe that's because usually there's no one left in the bullpen to back the closer up.
"It's fun, a good change," Russell said. "I like it. Never in my right mind did I think I'd be in the big leagues closing a game. Why not? I'm here, I might as well get out there."
His father, Jeff Russell, was a successful closer, totaling 186 career saves. James has talked to his dad about the job.
"We talked about how fun it is," Russell said. "Once you get to two outs and the crowd gets on their feet going crazy, he told me to make sure you calm yourself down and stay with your game plan and everything will work out. He also told me I have 185 more to go."
Marmol looking good since return
SAN FRANCISCO -- Carlos Marmol is throwing strikes, which is what Cubs manager Dale Sveum wants to see. But that doesn't mean the right-hander will automatically be back as the closer.
Marmol has thrown three scoreless, hitless innings since returning from the disabled list Monday. He has struck out four in those three innings and not walked anyone.
"That's a good sign," Sveum said Sunday about the lack of walks by Marmol. "The bullpen is finally shaping up a little bit, not that we have guys set in any role. To their credit, they've done a good job in whatever role I've put them in. I've called down there and [James] Russell gets up in the seventh or ninth or whatever."
Marmol was 2-for-4 in save situations and had walked 18 in 11 1/3 innings before losing the job as closer, and Sveum isn't concerned about getting Marmol back into it.
"I'm not setting any goals to get anybody anywhere except to win baseball games somehow and keep the other team from scoring once their starter is out of there," Sveum said. "The bottom line is to work the matchups as best as you possibly can to keep the other team from scoring."
Cubs have done homework for Draft
SAN FRANCISCO -- All the days on the road and nights in different hotel rooms and bad food consumed and video watched and scouting reports discussed by the Cubs baseball operations staff will hopefully pay off Monday in the First-Year Player Draft.
The Cubs have the sixth pick overall and two supplemental round selections. In 2002, they had a first-round pick plus three supplemental picks, plus the 56th and 62nd selections. Six picks in the first 62 is a lot (For trivia buffs, the players taken were Bobby Brownlie, Luke Hagerty, Chadd Blasko, Matthew Clanton, Brian Dopirak and Justin Jones).
This is the first Draft for the Cubs by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, and they've done their homework.
"Any organization, you do all your due diligence, you want that to be the right pick," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday. "The [supplemental] round, you want to find those diamonds in the rough. There's a lot that goes into the Draft that people don't fathom. There's a lot that goes into it to find that impact player."
Epstein, president of baseball operations, and Hoyer, the general manager, have been on the road scouting players, as has McLeod, who runs the team's scouting and player development. The trio were together in Boston and have reunited in Chicago, spending the last week in a conference room going over backround checks on the prospects.
Sveum notes their picks, such as Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, have worked out well.
"There are plenty of guys out there who you see have the tools and 'wow,' but at the same time, they haven't panned out," Sveum said. "It's like gambling. You take a shot and boom, you pick them, and wish they pan out the way you graded them out. Hopefully, those grades work out character-wise as much as anything."
David DeJesus, Steve Clevenger and Ian Stewart took advantage of some time in batting practice to chat with former Giants star Will Clark in right field. Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo had talked to Clark about sharing some tips with the three left-handed hitters.
"I've always wanted to meet him," said Clevenger, a Baltimore native who watched Clark when he was with the Orioles. "He was one of my favorite players in Baltimore."
Geovany Soto, on the disabled list after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in mid-May, was able to do some catcher-related drills Sunday.
However, pitcher Marcos Mateo, on the disabled list since April 5 because of problems with his right elbow, had a setback and underwent Tommy John surgery Friday in Chicago. Mateo is on the 60-day disabled list.
Tony Campana has six bunt singles and 12 infield hits. He is tied with Juan Pierre for the National League lead in bunt singles and is tied for first in the NL with Emilio Bonifacio in infield hits. Campana was batting .375 when leading off an inning this year.
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.