6/18/2013 1:05 A.M. ET
Eluded by saves, Marmol will no longer close
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- You will no longer see Carlos Marmol closing for the Cubs.
Manager Dale Sveum said Marmol, who blew a three-run lead in the ninth Sunday against the Mets while subbing for Kevin Gregg, would be back in his role as a late-inning reliever.
"[Marmol] has pitched well in the seventh and eighth and even pitched well in some tie games in the ninth and the 10th inning, too," Sveum said Monday. "Obviously, he's having difficulty with the last three outs and a save. We have our closer [in Gregg] when he has his rest. [Marmol] is back in the same role he was in."
Sunday was Marmol's first save opportunity since April 25, when he was successful against the Marlins. The right-hander began the season as the Cubs' closer but lost that job after the first week of the season, when he struggled against the Braves in the opening series. Gregg was not available Sunday after pitching four straight days.
This is the last year of Marmol's three-year contract with the Cubs, and he is being paid $9.8 million. Releasing him is not an option, Sveum said.
"He's obviously struggled closing," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said of Marmol. "He's had a lot of really good outings in low-pressure situations and non-closing roles. I think he has provided value for this team, but he's also been a significant part of the losses, which is unfortunately why we are where we are record-wise."
Sveum knows his decision to stick with Marmol in a save situation was not well-received by fans.
"That's people's prerogative," Sveum said. "I don't really care what people think about me. That's part of this job: to be second-guessed. There's nothing you can do about that. Players are put in positions to perform, and if they don't, the decision making will always be second-guessed. It doesn't matter what the situation is. If I would've put somebody else in who has never closed a game before and they give it up, I'd be in the same boat."
People will always question the manager's decisions -- that's part of the job.
"If Blake Parker goes in that game and blows a save, you ask why Blake Parker was in a save situation," Hoyer said. "In our job, you always try to focus more on the thought process more than the result. If Marmol had walked three guys and got through it, we'd be talking about a four-game winning streak today."
Regarding the job Sveum has done in his second year at the helm, Hoyer said the responsibility for the Cubs' record fell more on him as the GM and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations.
"I know [Sveum] was frustrated by the game yesterday, like everyone was, but I think he's kept the guys upbeat, and he continues to relate well with the players," Hoyer said. "Like I said at the end of last year, the talent on the team, we're not up to par right now with the Cardinals and the Reds. Those are really strong organizations, and that's what we're trying to get to. He's doing the best with what we have. That's on Theo and me, the talent.
"In a lot of ways, the last nine outs have been a challenge for us, not just the last three," Hoyer said. "We don't have a lot of internal options to go to."
Marmol was a successful closer for the Cubs in 2010 and 2011, totaling 38 and 34 saves, respectively. But in close and late situations this year, teams are batting .308 against the right-hander, compared with .191 in other situations.
"We know that those three outs are very, very difficult to get for some reason," Sveum said.
Who will close for the Cubs when Gregg is not available? One option in the series against the Cardinals is lefty James Russell.
"This is a team you could do it against, because there's no rhyme or reason to matchups or anything," Sveum said. "They're so good against both right-handers and left-handers that you go to maybe your most reliable guy. This is a time where you could use Russell, because there's no real matchups here."
Otherwise, Sveum will go with matchups. Whatever it is, it will not be Marmol.
Sveum ejected from opener against Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum felt he was right when he went out to argue a call at the plate in the seventh inning, and watching the replay did not change his mind.
Sveum was ejected for the third time this season after arguing a play against the Cardinals on Monday.
St. Louis had runners at second and third with one out when Pete Kozma hit a grounder to third baseman Luis Valbuena, who threw to first. Kozma was safe, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo threw home, but his throw sailed over catcher Welington Castillo.
Yadier Molina, the runner at third, broke for home. Castillo recovered the ball and threw to pitcher Travis Wood, who was covering at home, and the throw appeared to be in time, but home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn ruled Molina safe.
"He looked out to me," Sveum said after the game.
Sveum immediately sprinted from the dugout to argue the call, and after some animated discussion, he was tossed. Third-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth escorted Sveum back to the dugout.
"It's a big play in the game at that time," Sveum said. "One of your best pitchers on the mound, if not our best pitcher, blocks the plate and gets there, and it's just an out call."
Said Wood: "My take was that he was out, but [Reyburn] has got the overall say, and he called [Molina] safe, and we have to overcome that and get after the next batter and make the pitches."
Molina appeared to kick Wood after the play, but the Cubs pitcher said the two became tangled up.
"I was trying to get out of there and just kind of stumbled," Wood said.
"I was trying to be aggressive, and we got the call our way," he said. "Any time you got an opportunity to be aggressive, you take it."
Sveum, Garza differ on reason for success
ST. LOUIS -- After Sunday's game, where he threw seven scoreless innings, Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said he hoped to be matched up with Dioner Navarro as his catcher in the future.
Manager Dale Sveum would not guarantee that. He thought the difference Sunday was not the catcher, but Garza.
"I make of it a guy having command of his fastball," Sveum said. "When you have command of your fastball down and away, in any kind of format in the big leagues, you're going to have success."
Welington Castillo had caught Garza's five previous starts, including May 31 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, when the right-hander gave up two runs over seven innings and picked up the win.
"[Castillo] has caught the other guys pretty well," Sveum said. "He's done a great job. However it works out, it works out. Welington Castillo has put himself in a situation where he's caught the [Scott] Feldman's and the [Travis] Wood's and the [Jeff] Samardzija's great outings. The things he's done for all these guys is well and above what a young catcher is supposed to do."
So, is Garza frustrated, or making excuses?
"You can call it what you want," Sveum said. "When you have fastball command, you can have [a Class A] catcher catching."
• An MRI exam Monday of Cubs outfielder David DeJesus' right shoulder confirmed that it his injury was no more serious than a sprain. DeJesus was injured in the third inning Friday when he crashed into the outfield wall at Citi Field trying to make a catch.
The shoulder is still swollen, and there is no timetable for DeJesus' return. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday.
• Instead of adding another outfielder, the Cubs activated reliever Shawn Camp from the disabled list Saturday, which leaves them a little short-handed as far as position players go.
Sveum said there would be no change in the immediate future.
"Right now, it's coming in handy having that extra guy," Sveum said.
• Alfonso Soriano was visibly upset after Sunday's loss to the Mets in which Marmol blew a three-run lead in the ninth.
"For the position players in that clubhouse as well as some of our starting pitchers, a lot of our starting pitchers, it's been frustrating to beat a lot of teams and have games won after seven innings -- whatever our record is after the seventh inning -- and have a run differential of where we are," Sveum said. "It wears on you after a while as a player."
The Cubs have 21 losses in games in which they have had a lead.
• Left-handed pitcher Rob Zastryzny, the Cubs' second-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft, has apparently signed with the team. Zastryzny tweeted Monday: "Officially part of the Chicago Cubs organization. Thanks for all the support and I can't wait to start the journey. #Cubs"
The Cubs have yet to confirm any Draft signings.
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.