Mystery of Marmol

The timing wasn't great, but right-handed relief pitcher Carlos Marmol was named Sunday to replace right-hander Kerry Wood on the National League All-Star team.

Marmol gave up five hits and five runs in the ninth inning Saturday, enabling the Giants to tie the game at 7-7. The Cubs eventually won 8-7 in 11 innings.

Manager Lou Piniella, who gave Marmol the All-Star news, would just as soon have Marmol take the rest of the week off until Friday, when the Cubs resume the season. Marmol struggled after a torrid start, putting up a 7.36 ERA in June and a 13.50 ERA this month.

Piniella often used Marmol in early-season blowouts, and Marmol may be feeling the effects. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild also has worked with Marmol on his posture (getting him to stand more upright). The Cubs have looked at tapes to see if Marmol has been tipping his pitches. No evidence of that has been found, according to the Cubs.

If Marmol struggles to open the second half, it's likely right-hander Bob Howry will play a more important setup role, as may right-hander Chad Gaudin, obtained last week in the Rich Harden trade.


--RHP Kerry Wood has a blister on his right index finger, an ailment that's been bothering him for the past three weeks. Wood opted out of the All-Star Game, but the Cubs feel that a week off will be sufficient to get Wood healthy.

--LF Alfonso Soriano probably won't come off the DL until July 24, when the Cubs return from a six-game road trip after the All-Star break. Soriano broke a bone in his left hand June 11. The Cubs had hoped he could return right after the break, but the hand has felt "weak," and Soriano may do a minor-league rehab stint.

--SS Ryan Theriot extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games Sunday. He's 18-for-45 (.400) during the streak. Theriot has 37 multi-hit games and has been at or near the top in the NL in that category for most of the season.

--LHP Sean Marshall got a vote of confidence from manager Lou Piniella, who said Marshall would be in the bullpen when the second half opens. Marshall has worked as a starter and reliever this year. He pitched two scoreless innings in Saturday's 8-7, 11-inning victory over the Giants. Neal Cotts is the other lefty in the pen. He'll stay as long as Scott Eyre remains on the DL while rehabbing a groin injury. Eyre could come back the first or second series after the All-Star break.

--RF Kosuke Fukudome did not start Sunday or Friday against the Giants. He went 3-for-19 over the six-game homestand. Fukudome will start the All-Star Game in center field. The Cubs feel the recent rest and the All-Star break will help Fukudome, whom they say has been swinging a "tired" bat in recent weeks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 57 -- The Cubs have reached 57 victories before the All-Star break for the first time since 1969, when they had 61. The Cubs are 57-38 at the break. Last year, they were 44-43.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've said it's like the British Open. I've said that a few times." -- Manager Lou Piniella, on the capricious nature of Wrigley Field, where the wind can change direction at any time and alter the course of play.

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