Marmol expects to pitch Monday after MRI OK
Cubs closer says pitching hand, which cramped in game, is fine
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, pulled from Tuesday's game because of cramps in his right hand, said he expected to get back on schedule and pitch in a game on Monday.
Marmol underwent an MRI on Tuesday, which revealed no significant nerve injury. The Cubs' medical staff wanted Marmol to undergo the MRI as a precautionary measure.
"My hand is fine," Marmol said Thursday. "I feel great today and yesterday, too. The MRI and everything went good."
Marmol said he's had some cramping in his hand before. The MRI examined his neck and shoulders. Marmol said he felt some tightness in his neck.
"They checked my neck and did the MRI of my neck," Marmol said. "I felt a little tightness in my neck and that's the reason they did that. Everything was fine."
He started the seventh inning against the Rangers at HoHoKam Park on Tuesday and got the first two batters out, then hit Chris Robinson with a pitch. Marmol threw two pitches to Mike Olt and manager Dale Sveum noticed the pitcher flexing his right hand. Sveum and athletic trainer Ed Halbur went to the mound and the right-hander was lifted, although Marmol argued to stay in the game.
"After that [pitch], I felt great," Marmol said Thursday.
Sveum said when he first saw Marmol's reaction, he was worried that the injury was more serious.
"Thank God it was just [a hand cramp] -- that was kind of a throw that looked like an elbow thing," Sveum said.
"I never had tightness before -- I'm getting old, man," the 29-year-old Marmol said, laughing.
The right-hander has appeared in at least 75 games in each of the past four seasons, and the Cubs are hoping new pitching coach Chris Bosio can get the closer back on track. Marmol led the National League with 10 blown saves last season and has had trouble with his breaking pitches in Arizona. The problem isn't overwork. Marmol likes to pitch.
"I'm going to continue to pitch every day they ask me to," he said. "I'll pitch every time they give me the ball. That's how I like it. I hope they do that all my career."
The Cubs are aware of the appearances. Their concern is what Marmol does every time he takes the mound.
"You hope for the workload and not maybe the pitch counts," Sveum said Thursday. "That's what we're trying to get down is the 20-plus pitches consistently in a one-inning outing. If he has the workload, that means we're winning a lot of games."
Sveum won't be following a hard and fast rule regarding how he uses Marmol.
"To ever set anything in stone to me is ridiculous," Sveum said. "There's a lot of games where it depends on rest, who's starting the next day. There's nothing etched in stone when it comes to bringing your closer in as long as you let them know that these are situations where I still might use [him] even though it's not a save situation."
Marmol has not given up a run in three Cactus League outings after serving up seven in 1 2/3 innings in his previous two, March 8 and 12.
"Right now, I feel great on the mound," Marmol said. "I'm working on my pitch. The slider was a little better [Tuesday]. I feel great. I'm where I'd like to be. Everything's going fine."
Marmol's plan Thursday was to run, lift weights and throw on the side. He's working on a two-seam fastball. Next week, Marmol expects to pitch in back-to-back games.
"That's how I get ready -- the season's almost there," he said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.