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updated: 7/15/2011 8:21 PM

Marshall plan saves Cubs, but Marmol's in limbo

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  • Kosuke Fukudome runs to first base after hitting a single against the Florida Marlins in the third inning on Friday.

      Kosuke Fukudome runs to first base after hitting a single against the Florida Marlins in the third inning on Friday.
    Associated Press

  • Cubs manager Mike Quade congratulates Sean Marshall after he got the final out in relief of Carlos Marmol in a 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins.

      Cubs manager Mike Quade congratulates Sean Marshall after he got the final out in relief of Carlos Marmol in a 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins.
    Associated Press

  • Sean Marshall, left, celebrates with Starlin Castro after picking up a save against the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field.

      Sean Marshall, left, celebrates with Starlin Castro after picking up a save against the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

  • Cubs starter Ryan Dempster delivers during his 8-inning scoreless stint Friday against the Florida Marlins.

      Cubs starter Ryan Dempster delivers during his 8-inning scoreless stint Friday against the Florida Marlins.
    Associated Press

 
 

Say one thing for Cubs manager Mike Quade. He didn't take the easy way out Friday during a 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field.

The delicate question of the day was what to do with closer Carlos Marmol, not just for one day, but for the coming days and weeks ahead.

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The short answer is that Marmol got a chance to close Friday, but that he'll have to work his way back into the full-time job again.

There was the little matter of Marmol's confidence after a horrendous outing Thursday night, when he blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning, allowing the Marlins to escape with a 6-3 victory.

Wouldn't you know it, but the Cubs had a 2-0 lead in the ninth Friday, thanks to a strong start by Ryan Dempster.

So here was Quade's solution: After talking with Marmol, the other relievers and nearly everybody else in the greater Midwest, Quade allowed Marmol to take the mound in the ninth, knowing full well his command is out of whack and his stuff isn't what it normally is.

The 38,391 fans looked on nervously and then turned hostile when Marmol repeated his first-batter performance of the night before: a 4-pitch walk, this time to Omar Infante.

Quade stayed glued to the dugout but lefty Sean Marshall began to stir in the bullpen.

"I don't think giving a kid an opportunity to get back on track is a walk to the first hitter and adios," Quade said.

Gaby Sanchez popped out. Sigh of relief.

Hanley Ramirez lined a ball toward the gap in left-center. Infante took third, but Ramirez was gunned down at second by center fielder Marlon Byrd.

"Marlon makes a great play, or otherwise Marshall comes in to get (Logan) Morrison," Quade said. "So that gave us one more chance get him through it."

Morrison singled to right-center to score the runner, and that was it for Marmol. Marshall came in face the right-handed swinging Mike Stanton and he struck him out swinging.

"We had gone long enough," Quade said. "He got a tremendous break on Marlon's play. The left-hander (Morrison) gets a basehit. It was an anti-numbers move, that's for sure, with Stanton coming up. But sometimes Marshall can defy the numbers. He's that good. He's fresh, and you don't feel bad about him facing anybody."

Afterward, Marmol seemed relieved.

"I felt a lot better today," he said. "I threw more strikes."

Now for the long-term plan.

Marmol looked at video before the game and worked on mechanics with pitching coach Mark Riggins. After throwing 25 pitches (7 strikes) Thursday, Marmol threw 27 (16 strikes) Friday, so he'll get a couple days to rest and continue working.

Marshall and Kerry Wood will be the closer options, and it's even possible it will stay that way when Marmol is fresh again to pitch.

"This is something that I have to explore and think about for a while, not only how much time we're going to give him," Quade said. "My pitching people need to tell me the mechanical work that needs to be done. Relievers just don't have the side time and the time to work on stuff that starters do. So you almost have to say, 'Look, we're going to give him a couple of days. He's made 50 pitches. Go to work on this,' knowing full well we're not going to use him.

"And then on top of that, when it's time, what are we going to do and in what situation are we going to try to use him to make sure he's back on track? As much as I want to get him through this, I don't want to put him now in a situation where he's uncomfortable."

Marmol said that's his understanding, too.

"That's exactly what he told me," he said, referring to Quade. "Get a couple days. Figure out things. Hopefully, when I get back, I'll be the old Marmol."

In his last 6 appearances, covering 3 innings, Marmol has given up 5 hits and 8 earned runs while walking seven and striking out no one. The lack of strikeouts is telling, and Quade was asked if he saw any immediate improvement Friday.

"Several pitches," Quade said. "Not enough. Not enough quality stuff. He's just not getting the swings and misses like he has in the past. He hasn't been able to make enough quality pitches, and today, he didn't."

To be continued.

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