Cubs go with closer-by-committee just not Marmol or Cashner

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Cubs go with closer-by-committee just not Marmol or Cashner

The Boston media had fun with the closer-by-committee idea once Theo Epstein began running the Red Sox in 2003.

Thats where the Cubs are now, feeling their way through the ninth inning, though the stakes are clearly much lower, making a big-time closer a luxury item.

That Red Sox team made it to Game 7 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, before a dramatic home run from Aaron Bleeping Boone ended it in the 11th inning.

By process of elimination, manager Dale Sveum is down to Shawn Camp and James Russell, and that will depend on matchups and the game situation.

The Cubs activated Carlos Marmol from the disabled list on Monday, and optioned Rafael Dolis to Triple-A Iowa. Dolis lasted about three weeks as closer and went 0-2 with a 24.00 ERA in his last five outings.

Sveum had a sarcastic response when a reporter asked if Marmol will go back to closing: He wasnt in the closer role when he left.

Its out of sight, out of mind, but there was Andrew Cashner sitting in the visiting dugout at Wrigley Field, a Padres hat on his head and sunglasses shielding his eyes.

Not that long ago, the Cubs seemed to have so many endgame solutions before Sean Marshall was traded to the Reds, Jeff Samardzija moved into the rotation and Kerry Wood retired.

People see the 6.35 ERA now, but Marmol earned that 20 million contract by going 49-for-54 in save chances during his first year-plus on the job.

Cashner, the 19th overall pick in the 2008 draft, had closed at Texas Christian University and the organization was split on his future through the final months of the Jim Hendry administration.

But Epstein and new general manager Jed Hoyer determined that Cashner would max out as a reliever, not a starter, and that wasnt as valuable as a future first baseman. So Cashner went to San Diego last winter in the Anthony Rizzo deal.

A lot changes when a new regime comes in, Cashner said. I wasnt their guy. I was one of Jim Hendrys guys. (Its) one of those things that you deal with and life goes on.

Cashner missed almost all of last season with a right shoulder injury, but is back throwing around 100 mph out of the Padres bullpen. He was widely viewed as a good guy in the Cubs clubhouse, but didnt appreciate a reporter inquiring about his health this time.

Really? Youre gonna ask me that question? Unbelievable.

Cubs officials once played up the comparisons between Cashner and Kid K. Growing up in Texas, Cashner idolized Wood. Cashner watched Woods final strikeout on television and sent him a text message the other day.

It was awesome, Cashner said. To get a chance to play with him for a year was pretty special.

Hoyer said the Cubs are targeting power arms in the upcoming amateur draft, and believes that the best bullpens are built from within. Thats a window into how the front office is thinking.

The Cubs are willing to experiment and try to develop their own closer. They seem less likely to go out and buy one. They know that relievers are notoriously difficult to project from one year to the next.

Marmol worked to regain the feel for his slider and fastball while recovering from his hamstring strain, and maybe the time away from Wrigley Field helped his state of mind.

It could be the same way for the 24-year-old Dolis, who skipped the Triple-A level on the way to the big leagues.

Its not even a rookie (thing), Marmol said. For everybody, its tough. When you go out there to close the game, you know its very important, because everybody before that did everything to put you in that position. It took them three hours.

When youre struggling to throw strikes, its not an easy thing. You got to be strong mentally.

Bulls' Jimmy Butler voted All-Star Game starter

Bulls' Jimmy Butler voted All-Star Game starter

Jimmy Butler is heading to his third straight All-Star Game, and for the first time he'll be in the Eastern Conference's starting lineup.

CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill reported that Butler was voted an All-Star starter.

Butler has been sensational this season, averaging a career-best 24.8 points (tied for the 10th-best mark in the league entering Thursday's games), 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest through 41 games. He's shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3-point range.

Butler previously made Eastern Conference All-Star squads in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, though this is his first time in the starting five.

High School Lites Week 8 basketball capsules

High School Lites Week 8 basketball capsules

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school basketball games across Chicagoland for another basketball edition of High School Lites. Catch the show live at 11 p.m. Friday on CSN and streaming at CSNChicago.com. This week's show has a lot of action between ranked teams as we have some important conference matchups on High School Lites. I'll be between two games this week with a solid rematch in the Mid-Suburban West between No. 20 Conant and No. 10 Fremd while No. 9 Marist heads to No. 24 Benet for a good game in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. We'll also have highlights from the Red-South, Central Suburban South, SouthWest Suburban Red, South Suburban Blue and Kishwaukee River. Our's Viewer's Choice Game of the Week heads to the Catholic League South as No. 23 Brother Rice heads to Bishop McNamara. And this week's Wintrust Athlete of the Week is Fremd senior Grace Tworek as the Harvard commit is coming off of a career-high 29-point performance last week.

THURSDAY

No. 1 Simeon at Bogan, 5:00 p.m. -- The Wolverines (17-0, 7-0) are already coming off of two wins this week over Fenwick and Harlan as the starters rested over Harlan in that win. The Bengals (12-6, 4-3) remain a dangerous team as they've played better ball since Jerome Bynum became eligible. 

FRIDAY

No. 20 Conant at No. 10 Fremd, 6:00 p.m. -- A big rematch in the Mid-Suburban West that saw Fremd win on the road earlier this season. The Vikings (16-0, 5-0) have one of the best defenses in the area as Ryan Martin did a great job defending Jimmy Sotos from Conant in the last matchup. The Cougars (15-3, 4-1) are trying to bounce back after a loss to Prospect as they're hoping to tie the MSL West race.

No. 9 Marist at No. 24 Benet, 7:30 p.m. -- The East Suburban Catholic Conference remains one of the toughest conferences in the Chicagoland area as this one should be good. Marist (19-1, 3-0) had their unbeaten streak broken on Tuesday against Brother Rice but senior big man Justin Brown had a huge game and should be a factor. Benet (14-5, 2-1) is trying to stay in the ESCC picture as seniors Jack Nolan and Liam Lyman are both playing good ball.

No. 16 Thornton at Thornwood, 6:30 p.m. -- The SouthWest Suburban Blue rivalry game should be a good one. Thornton (12-4, 4-0) is led by senior Alonzo Verge as he's putting together some big performances this season. Thornwood (7-8, 1-2) is trying to stay in the conference race at this point as they're coming off a loss to T.F. North.

Hillcrest at T.F. South, 7:00 p.m. -- Two 7-0 teams clash in the South Suburban Blue in this one. Hillcrest (12-5, 7-0) is looking to climb back into the CSN Preps Power Rankings as they're still a big threat in Class 3A. T.F. South (10-7, 7-0) is the surprise team in the mix in the conference as both teams are tied with T.F. North in the standings.

Marengo at Burlington Central, 7:00 p.m. -- We make a trip to the Kishwaukee River as the top two teams in the conference clash. But this game comes with a twist: Marengo (14-4, 2-0) lost at Burlington Central (16-1, 2-0) on Monday in the championship game of the Rockets' annual event. This time, the game counts in the standings as Burlington Central stopped Marengo's seven-game winning streak earlier this week.

No. 2 Evanston at Niles North, 7:30 p.m. -- The Wildkits (14-2, 4-0) are still unbeaten against Illinois teams as they have one of their tougher Central Suburban South games on the road at Niles North. Senior Nojel Eastern has plenty of weapons around him this season as Evanston continues to look very balanced. The Vikings (12-7, 2-2) are coming off of a 1-1 Monday at the Lake Zurich tournament as they try to stay with the Wildkits in league play.

Viewer's Choice Game of the Week

No. 23 Brother Rice at Bishop McNamara, 7:15 p.m. -- Our Viewer's Choice Game of the Week goes to the Catholic League South as the red-hot Crusaders (16-3, 4-0) head to Bishop McNamara. Brother Rice earned a huge win over previously-unbeaten Marist  on Tuesday as Mike Shepski and Josh Niego continue to have strong seasons. McNamara (13-4, 3-1) is right there with Brother Rice and Leo in the Catholic South race as they try to make a move here.