Kyuji Fujikawa Reportedly Will Replace Carlos Marmol as Chicago Cubs' Closer

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2013

After a rough start to the 2013 MLB season, Carlos Marmol has reportedly been demoted as the Chicago Cubs' closer and will be replaced in the role by Kyuji Fujikawa.

From Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago:

It's hardly surprising news, particularly after Marmol blew a save in Saturday's game against the Atlanta Braves, giving up solo home runs to the Upton brothers in a 6-5 loss.

He has now surrendered five earned runs in three appearances this season.

Fujikawa has been pegged as the team's future closer, but with Marmol under contract through this season, it didn't seem the former would get his shot at the role until next season.

However, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, manager Dale Sveum hasn't ruled out the possibility that Marmol could close for the team again:

"Yeah, there's a chance. Hopefully, Fujikawa takes it and runs with it and does a great job so we don't have to even deal with that. Obviously, Marmol is going to pitch in less stressful situations and get his confidence back."

Fujikawa was knocked around himself against the Braves in the eighth, giving up three runs and four hits in an inning of work. He had been perfect in two previous appearances, however, allowing no runs, hits or walks in 1.1 innings of work, earning a hold and a save.

Chicago signed the 32-year-old reliever this offseason on a two-year, $9.5 million deal with a vesting option for 2015. He had spent the past six-plus seasons as the closer for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.

If Fujikawa struggles in this role for the team, the Cubs will be in serious trouble late in games, a major problem for a young team that will battle just to avoid the bottom of the National League standings.

But if he does succeed in the role, don't be surprised if the Cubs look for a closer-needy team willing to make a deal for Marmol.


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