Sveum: Marmol, Fujikawa can work together in bullpen


Sveum: Marmol, Fujikawa can work together in bullpen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Dale Sveum was hunting for quail in Arizona when Robin Yount lost sight of his buddy about 50 yards up on a hill. The Hall of Famer shot the bird and drilled the Cubs managers right ear.
There was blood, but Sveum didnt need any stitches. He shrugged it off, like this sort of thing happens all the time. His ability to maintain equilibrium and laugh at the absurdity might be his greatest strength as a manager so far. You need that on the North Side.
The Cubs lost 101 games last season, including 38 after leading and 14 in the last at-bat. They went 15-27 in one-run games and 14-18 in two-run decisions. Theyre probably going to leave Nashville, Tenn., without making any huge moves this week.
To begin making up the difference in smaller ways, the Cubs think Carlos Marmol and Kyuji Fujikawa could work together in the back end of their bullpen.
The Cubs planned to meet with Marmols agent, Paul Kinzer, on Tuesday night at the Gaylord Opryland. General manager Jed Hoyer had already spoken with Kinzer since a trade to the Los Angeles Angels collapsed last month, and team president Theo Epstein has also reached out to Marmol.
We see Carlos as our closer, Hoyer said.
Sveum gave another strong vote of confidence for Marmol while welcoming another potential option for late-game situations. Sveum has watched video of Fujikawa and said the Japanese closer could pitch in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning.
Hes got that kind of stuff, Sveum said. That ability to do things with three and four different pitches just doesnt come around very often. He can setup. He can close, do anything he wants with the baseball. Hes got four quality pitches and can add and subtract with his fastball. (He) can get left-handers out, so he can pitch in any kind of situation.
Fujikawas two-year, 9.5 million deal is pending a physical and reportedly contains options for 2015. The Cubs could allow Fujikawa to acclimate to a new culture and let Marmol feel the heat at Wrigley Field.
If Carlos is on the team, he will be our closer, and I anticipate Carlos being here, Hoyer said. Anyone can be traded at any time. But as we put together our 2013 team, were certainly expecting him to be our closer.

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

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