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Wood closing in on closer role

Wood closing in on closer role

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The only question regarding whether Kerry Wood can handle the closer duties is if he's durable enough. But Lou Piniella acknowledged Saturday that the setup pitchers usually have a tougher workload, which means the Cubs may be leaning toward giving the ninth-inning job to Wood.

"I've said a couple things -- one about durability, and two, we're trying to find one more arm who can pitch late in the ballgame, and I think I've found it in [Kevin] Hart," Piniella said. "The closer spot is a very important spot in the bullpen but I think the biggest thing with the closer's spot is having good stuff, having the confidence you can do it, and being able to bounce back from adversity at times."

Wood, whose career has been slowed the last four years because of shoulder issues, has looked sharp this spring, and given up three runs on six hits over six innings in six games.

Bob Howry has been charged with seven runs on 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Carlos Marmol has not allowed a run, serving up three hits over five innings in five games. In his last outing, he loaded the bases but escaped the jam. The right-hander has not been able to command his fastball as well as the Cubs would like.

"I'm trying to do too much," Marmol said. "I don't like that."

This coming week, expect to see them each pitch in consecutive games. Then, Piniella says, he'll be ready to announce his closer.

"We'll have something to say about the closer's spot here after the pitchers go back-to-back," he said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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