Cubs keeping their eyes on Wood, Marmol, bullpen help

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Cubs keeping their eyes on Wood, Marmol, bullpen help

GOODYEAR, Ariz. The Cubs bullpen is built around Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol, and right now its hard to imagine endgame situations without them.

Wood hasnt been in a game since March 18, and manager Dale Sveum doesnt expect to see the veteran reliever pitch before Thursday. Marmol will throw Monday against the San Diego Padres, his first real test since leaving a game last week with a cramp in his right hand (an MRI revealed no significant nerve injury).

Sveum has made reference to back issues, but said Sunday that it was somewhat pre-planned for Wood to get a rest as camp wound down.

It locked up on him awhile ago, (but) the back had nothing to do with it, Sveum said. Were just easing him back into the season since he had pitched already. Nothing spectacular (with) the back is going on.

Theres just no reason for any extra workload.

Does Wood have any other physical problems besides his back?

Not that I know of, Sveum said. Nothings going on there.

Sveum said he didnt think that Wood had thrown a side session in around a week. Wood has appeared in four Cactus League games, and is expected to get a few more innings before Opening Day.

Sveum has compared the situation to a starter reaching 85 pitches and then dialing back the intensity. This could be a way to preserve a 34-year-old reliever.

No matter what, the front office figures to be monitoring the market for bullpen help. When the Cubs reported to camp five weeks ago, they had already identified their eight position players, and had clear ideas about their rotation.

But the middle of the bullpen figures to be young andor inexperienced. Potential setup man Rafael Dolis is 24 years old and has pitched in only one big-league game. Lendy Castillo a Rule 5 pickconverted infielder whos never pitched above A-ball is in the mix. Its a need that could be addressed outside the organization.

You never know, Sveum said. Obviously, this is the time of spring training where people become available on waivers or (are) released because of numbers problems and they can still pitch. Yeah, theres an opportunity within the next two weeks.

Theres an above-average chance you might pick somebody up. Whether he sticks with us or not, thats another story.

Sveum repeated that nothings etched in stone when he was asked about Chris Volstad being the fourth starter, but the sense is that Randy Wells could profile well as a reliever.

Rodrigo Lopez, who could be a good veteran swingman, continued his strong spring by limiting the Cleveland Indians to two runs in 4.1 innings during Sundays 6-2 win at Goodyear Ballpark.

Andy Sonnanstine has already declined his outright to Triple-A Iowa and asked for his release, becoming a free agent. Lopez doesnt want to consider any possibility other than Wrigley Field.

My mind is in Chicago, Lopez said. This is not over yet. I wont think about that yet. Thats why I came here, asking for the opportunity to make the team and I feel like Ive been doing enough to make (it) and well see what happens.

The last two years Ive been in the same situation. Nobody says anything until the last moment.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."