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Dempster says Cubs closer needs work

Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:10 a.m. CDT

CINCINNATI (MCT) — The Chicago Cubs had only five save opportunities in the month of April, the second fewest in the majors behind the Padres’ four chances.

The lack of ninth inning opportunities hasn’t been beneficial to Carlos Marmol, who has converted only one save in three chances, struggling to find his control at times.

Ryan Dempster, who served as the Cubs’ closer from 2005-07, said it’s difficult for any closer to stay sharp when he doesn’t get many leads to protect. Dempster believes Marmol will come around as soon as he gets into a regular pattern.

“Hopefully we get in more (save) situations,” Dempster said. “I know being a reliever and being a closer, the more I was pitching, the better I felt. Hopefully we start winning some games and he keeps getting in there and then you start to get on a roll.

“I know it has been kind of a stretch of pitching once every four days. That’s hard when you’re sitting down in the bullpen, to get in a rhythm doing that.”

Power vacuum: The Cubs power outage has been a recurring theme in 2012. They finished with only nine home runs in April, with none from Alfonso Soriano, who had six in spring training.

Soriano said Monday he believed the team would relax more and start hitting for power now that April is over. Does manager Dale Sveum believe things can change with the flip of a calendar?

“A calendar?” he said with a laugh. “The year 2013? I have to find another job then.”

Of course, the calendar would be flipping to the next month, not the next year, so Sveum is safe for now. But the Cubs are on pace to hit only 63 home runs, which would be their fewest in a non-strike season since 1946, when they finished with 56.

“Obviously the weather warming up and things like that are definitely going to play into hitting more home runs, there’s no question about that,” Sveum said. “That’s what it is. Would we have more than what we have now if the weather was different and the wind wasn’t blowing in? Of course we would.

“In the beginning we came across a lot of good pitching, and that has leveled off a little bit. All that stuff comes into play that we’ll be able to hit more home runs, no question.”

Bryan LaHair leads the Cubs with five homers. The last Cubs player to hit more than half of the team’s home runs in a month was Sammy Sosa, who hit 17 of their 32 homers in August of 2001. The last Cubs player to do so in April was Dave Kingman, who hit seven of the team’s 12 homers.

Extra innings: Sveum said Randy Wells would be available out of the bullpen on Wednesday. Wells may go to the bullpen full-time if he’s not sent to Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. ... Infielder Adrian Cardenas is hitting .338 at Triple-A Iowa with 14 RBIs.

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