07/29/12 6:53 PM ET
Marmol's confidence back at a high level
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The right-hander has converted his last 12 save opportunities, dating to May 2 at Cincinnati.
"It's all confidence now," Sveum said. "It's confidence in being able to throw his fastball to get the swings and misses now, and guys aren't just waiting for a slider. The velocity, throwing strikes, getting back in counts, now he's gotten more swings and misses on strikes. His confidence has to be on a high level."
If Marmol's velocity appears to be increased, it's not that he's doing extra arm strengthening exercises.
"He's always had [velocity]," Sveum said. "Before, he didn't want to throw his fastball for a strike so he wouldn't air it out."
But wouldn't Sveum like an easy ninth?
"He's done the job," Sveum said. "You look at every closer, every night, no matter if the guy is throwing more strikes or whatever, the winning run is going to get to the plate. That's just the way it is. One-two-three innings in the last couple innings are difficult to find. I don't care if the guy on the mound never throws balls at all -- he's going to give up a hit. That's just the way it is."
Germano to start Monday against Pirates
CHICAGO -- Right-hander Justin Germano, acquired from the Red Sox on July 19 for cash considerations, will get the start Monday for the Cubs in the series opener against the Pirates.
Germano was a starter at Triple-A Pawtucket, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he expected the right-hander to be able to throw 80-90 pitches. In his only Cubs appearance on July 21 in St. Louis, he threw three innings and gave up one run on five hits.
"He's crafty," Sveum said. "He's not going to light up a radar gun, but he's got great arm speed on all his offspeed pitches and can change speeds on a slow curveball -- anywhere from 68-75, 78 mph curveball, changeup. He sinks the ball, keeps the ball down. He's kind of crafty as much as anything but has command of four pitches."
Meanwhile, Ryan Dempster threw a side session Sunday at Wrigley Field and was still scheduled to start Tuesday against the Pirates. Dempster, the subject of trade rumors, isn't the only one eager for Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline to pass. Was Sveum ready to turn the calendar to Aug. 1?
"Well, Tuesday at 3 [p.m. CT] will be fine, too," Sveum said. "Not that I know the time [of the Trade Deadline] or anything."
LaHair hoping to break out of slump with RISP
CHICAGO -- Bryan LaHair drove in 109 runs last season for Triple-A Iowa, but this year, he has 31 so far with the Cubs, and has been scuffling with runners in scoring position.
Entering Sunday's game, LaHair was batting .143 with runners in scoring position and .214 in July with three RBIs.
"I'm in my own head a little bit, that's all," LaHair said. "That's a problem I've never had. I guess there's a first time for everything. I don't plan on this being a problem for the rest of my life, I know that."
Maybe the problem is right field? LaHair was batting .287 as a first baseman, but since moving to right to make room for Anthony Rizzo, he was hitting .221.
"Whatever it is, I just have to get it done," LaHair said. "At the end of the day, you have to get hits in those situations."
What's helped is that Alfonso Soriano has delivered, as he was batting .298 with runners on entering Sunday.
"When I do get the opportunity, I'm not exactly getting a bunch of cookies to hit," said LaHair, who follows Soriano in the lineup. "Then I give in and all of a sudden I'm out. I should probably just walk."
Last season at Triple-A Iowa, LaHair batted .331 with 38 home runs and 38 doubles. He's spending extra time in the cage with hitting coach James Rowson.
"I've always been over .300 every year [in the Minors with runners on]," he said. "It's something I care about a lot, but I'm not going to worry about it because it's not a problem I've ever had. It's a problem I'm having now, but it's not a problem I'll have forever."
Once Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline passes, the Cubs may start discussing possible additions to the team from Triple-A Iowa. One player to be considered is third baseman Josh Vitters, who was batting .303 (117-for-386) with 15 home runs and 31 doubles.
Vitters, who was the Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, was batting .330 in July. What about his defense?
"Nothing's really seemed to have gotten worse or better," Sveum said. "We need to still keep an eye on that and see where he is defensively."
Manuel Corpas was modeling a Patrick Kane jersey in the Cubs' clubhouse on Sunday, although he didn't know who Kane, a star for the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team, was. It's part of Wednesday's NHL sweater day for the trip to Los Angeles.
"I wanted an Avalanche [sweater]," said Corpas, who played for the Rockies.
He'll do just fine with Chicago fans if he wears Kane's No. 88.
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.