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Fujikawa could bump Marmol from Cubs' closer role

The SportsXchange

One of the most interested observers of the winter meetings was Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

In November, the Cubs tried to trade Marmol to the Angels, but they backed out of a proposed deal because they didn't like the medical reports on Los Angeles pitcher Dan Haren.

As the meetings ended, the Cubs were set to announce the signing of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year deal worth a guaranteed $9.5 million.

The Cubs' company line in Nashville was: "Marmol is still our closer."

That remains to be seen. Marmol has one year and $9.8 million left on his three-year deal. It's still possible the Cubs could move him before spring training. After a poor start to the 2012 season, when Marmol lost the ninth-inning role for a while, he came on in the second half and wound up with 20 saves.

It's possible Marmol and Fujikawa could coexist in the same bullpen. In six years at Hanshin in Japan, Fujikawa, 32, had 202 saves and a microscopic WHIP of 0.86. While team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were publicly backing Marmol, field manager Dale Sveum seemed to like the possibilities with Fujikawa.

"I think he can fill any kind of role," Sveum said. "He's got that kind of stuff. Those numbers and that ability to do things with three and four different pitches just doesn't come around very often. So he can set up, he can close, do anything he wants with the baseball.

"He's got four quality pitches and can add and subtract (velocity) with his fastball. Yeah, I mean, he can pitch in the seventh, pitch in the eighth, pitch in the ninth, he can get left-handers out, so he can pitch in any kind of situation."
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