It took only one game for the Cubs' closer situation to become an issue.
Although probably not a "closer controversy," manager Dale Sveum's yanking of Carlos Marmol in the ninth
inning of Monday's season-opening 3-1 victory at Pittsburgh certainly got people talking.
Marmol, who has had trouble with his control during his career, came on in the ninth inning protecting a
3-0 lead. He got a strikeout then going hit batter (with a stolen base), single and walk before Sveum
pulled him for lefty James Russell.
After Russell got one out, Sveum went to right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa, who got the final out of the game
and earned the save. Fujikawa, whom the Cubs signed out of Japan this past offseason, has closer experience
and often is talked about as the successor to Marmol, whether the Cubs trade Marmol this season or he loses
the job because of poor performance.
Sveum no doubt anticipated the question about going back to Marmol, but he wasn't wading into any
"closer controversy" waters.
"Yeah, he's still the closer," Sveum said of Marmol. "I'm not making any changes or anything like that.
He just didn't have it today."
For his part, Fujikawa said he is prepared to pitch anytime he's called on, but he would not bite when
asked whether the closer's job soon could be his.
The one interesting part about this whole thing is that Sveum has several closer options if Marmol is
ineffective or if he simply needs a day after pitching two or three straight games.
Fujikawa is one. Russell is another. Right-hander Shawn Camp did not get into Monday's game, but he was
an effective setup man last year, and he also can be held back if Marmol makes trouble for himself.
Sveum acknowledged that he wouldn't hesitate to manage the same way again if the same situation arises.
"The situation at hand, whatever happens, whoever's available," he said. "Every inning changes. Every
day changes, according to who's available ... if I have the weapons to get out of it."