Cubs president Theo Epstein said Monday he is fully behind manager Dale Sveum's move to demote closer Carlos Marmol.
Marmol pitched 1 inning of mop-up work in Monday's home opener, a 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Marmol was booed during pregame introductions and when he took the mound in the eighth inning.
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"Completely supportive of Dale," Epstein said. "I think he's made the right calls. Marmol bounced back last year to have a solid second half. Of course, he should have started the year as our closer. You don't lose your job because of two bad outings at the end of spring training. To do that would run counter to everything we believe in.
"Spring training is not a good time to evaluate. But he pitched really poorly three times to start the year and it was important, I think, for the team to make a change because we need to believe we can win these close games late."
Marmol lost his closer's job early last season and then came back to regain it. Both Sveum and Epstein said that could happen again.
"Last year, he came back and after struggling, fixed himself and came back and contributed," Epstein said. "We need to be open to that possibility again. This is a positive step for Marmol in the sense that he can maybe fix himself in low-leverage situations and positive for the club that we can have some belief that we can win some of these games."
Marmol seemed understanding of the fan reaction.
"I didn't pitch good for the first couple games," he said. "I'm fine. I try to do my job and try to get people out. That's what I need."
Second baseman Darwin Barney will wait until later in the week to have the stitches removed from his left knee. Barney has been on the disabled list since April 1 after cutting his knee in the exhibition finale at Houston.
Pitcher Matt Garza (left-lat muscle) is supposed to throw "a couple more bullpens" and then head out on a minor-league rehab assignment, according to Dale Sveum.