If the Marlins have a closer controversy brewing, it’s hard to notice for a few reasons.
The most obvious one is Miami (13-34) hasn’t had much need for a traditional late-inning, shutdown pitcher this season.
Even manager Mike Redmond admitted that keeping a pitcher in the bullpen until a save opportunity arrived meant keeping said pitcher off the field for long stretches of time.
Redmond will go with a variety of pitchers when a closer is needed. Steve Cishek has been closing out games since last season.
“Everyone makes a big deal about defined roles, but we’re still a developing team,” Redmond said. “It’s more important for guys, like Cishek, to go out there and pitch.
“I think we’re doing him a disservice if we sit him for five, six, seven days waiting for a save situation.”
Cishek said he doesn’t have any problem with Redmond splitting up the work between himself, Mike Dunn, Chad Qualls and, perhaps, others. Cishek leads Miami with five saves after getting 15 last season.
“I understand. I wasn’t getting the job done,” Cishek said before Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Philadelphia — the 17th game this month in which the Marlins had no need for a closer.
“... I’m disappointed in myself for not getting the job done, but I’m excited about getting back on track and helping this team get some momentum.”
On Sunday, Cishek replaced starter Ricky Nolasco after he gave up a leadoff double in the ninth with Miami leading 2-0. Cishek gave up a run on a sacrifice fly, then gave up a single and walked Martin Prado. Dunn came in and eventually got the final out and the save.
The following night, Miami held a 2-1 lead on Philadelphia in the eighth and had Qualls warming up. The Marlins scored three runs in that inning — erasing the save chance — but Redmond said Qualls was coming in regardless of the situation. The Marlins won 5-1.
Miami had a pronounced closer controversy last year as former All-Star reliever Heath Bell came to the Marlins as one of the team’s highly paid free agents. As was the case with the Marlins in 2012, Bell didn’t live up to expectations.
Then-manager Ozzie Guillen stuck with Bell into July before Cishek started finding his way into games in the ninth.
Bell and his three-year, $27 million contract (one the Marlins will pay most of through 2014) were sent to Arizona weeks after the disastrous 2012 season ended. Bell has six saves and two blown chances with the Diamondbacks this season.
“What made it difficult last year was everyone had us in contention,” Cishek said. “This year, no one has any expectations on us.”
Cishek realizes he hasn’t been getting the job done this year, especially when it comes to getting left-handed hitters out. They are 13 for 39 (.333) against him.
“I haven’t really been attacking the strike zone with anyone,” Cishek said. “I go through a phase like this every year where I can’t find it. Hopefully, this is just a bump in the road.”
No Ozzie in Chicago
It sure would have been more fun for the Marlins to go to the south side of Chicago had Guillen still been around.
Guillen, fired after one season with the Marlins, managed the White Sox for eight colorful seasons in which he won a World Series but also openly feuded with members of the media as well as players and front-office staff.
On Wednesday, Guillen told the Jonathon Brandmeier Show on Chicago’s WGN 720-AM it is a little strange being out of baseball. Guillen signed a four-year deal with the Marlins and is still being paid “a lot of money” by the organization.
“If I said I didn’t miss it, I would be lying,” said Guillen, who managed the Marlins at Wrigley Field last year, but the team didn’t visit the Sox.
“Things are better and simpler without the stress. But you miss the players, being around people, being on the field. My family has made it easier. I’ve been traveling a lot.”
Guillen also added that when you Google his name, the first thing that pops up “are Fidel Castro pictures. That’s stupid, but it is what it is.”
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