Cubs' advice to Marmol: Cut out the cutter
MESA, Ariz. -- If there's one thing Cubs manager Dale Sveum wants from closer Carlos Marmol, it's for him to stick to his strength.
"We might have just told him to wipe out his cutter he threw last year," Sveum said Sunday after Marmol and the rest of the Cubs pitchers worked out on the first full day of spring training. "I think he admits it caused him a lot of problems and got him a little out of whack.
"He is what he is. He's an impressive closer, but he's a slider guy with one of the best, unhittable sliders we've seen in a long time. That's what he is. Unfortunately, sometimes he can get into a lot of pitches in those inning because of it but it's so devastating, too, because he can get out of it because of it. You don't want him doing anything Carlos Marmol isn't used to, and I think he's going to be back to that this year."
Marmol looks to have come to camp in great physical shape. Although he saved 34 games last year, he blew 10 save opportunities.
The Cubs seem to feel that if Marmol sticks with his fastball and slider, he revert to the form that enabled him to save 38 games in 43 chances in 2010, his first full year as a closer.
Pitchers worked on fielding and covering first base Sunday. The Cubs were last in the National League in fielding last year, and Dale Sveum said pitchers can help themselves in that area.
"No question PFP (pitchers' fielding practice) was an issue with some guys, not everybody," Sveum said. "We actually knocked a few of that out today talking about it. What makes them tick sometimes with guys is that it is a mental block or something like that, whether it's throwing to bases.
"A lot of time a pitcher fields a ball later in the game that could change his inning around with the bunt or getting an out or getting an easy comebacker double-play ball. We're going to do a lot of that on the road this year. When we have all the night games on the road, we will spend a lot of time on PFPs and fundamentals, too."
Left-handed reliever John Gaub did not participate in drills Sunday. He's recovering from back spasms manager Dale Sveum said Gaub suffered lifting weights last week.
"He's going to be back out there within a few days," Sveum said.
Dale Sveum said he was excited to finally get on the field after being hired three months ago.
"Oh, no question," he said. "This was the day, like I said, it feels like I got hired two years ago, just waiting for this day to come, finally getting on the field. When you do this for so many years, the most comfortable spot is when you're on that grass and when the balls are being hit and caught and thrown and to be able to talk to everybody. It's officially baseball season finally."
The elder statesman:
Kerry Wood is back in Cubs camp after re-signing with the team last month during the annual fan convention. Believe it or not, Wood turns 35 in June.
"You guys have been calling me an elder statesman for several years," the former 'Kid K' said. "There's plenty of new faces. There are plenty of faces that have been around the last few years. It's a good mix. It's exciting to get going."