Russell ready to take on challenge of closing

Russell ready to take on challenge of closing

Russell ready to take on challenge of closing
CHICAGO -- New closer candidate James Russell acknowledged Friday that late-inning relievers are a different breed.

Don't worry, Cubs fans. That's a good thing, especially when it comes to closing. Russell learned on Friday that he and right-hander Rafael Dolis will get the chance to share the closing duties after Carlos Marmol was removed from the role by manager Dale Sveum.

Russell entered Friday's game in the seventh and allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning, while Dolis pitched a scoreless ninth to notch the save in a 5-4 win over the Dodgers.

Russell's father, Jeff, was a Major League closer for the Rangers, A's, Red Sox and Indians, so the younger Russell certainly has the genetics to succeed in the role.

"I'd like to think closers are a little screwy in the head, so maybe he passed that on to me," Russell said. "It'll be fun. I think you have to have a little of, I don't know, something wrong with you to be a closer."

When asked if he possessed that quality, Russell replied, "A little bit. Every now and then. If you're a baseball player, you've got to be a little messed up."

Russell, now in his third year in the Majors, has rarely pitched in ninth-inning situations and has never recorded a save, but he said he isn't concerned about taking the ball in the ninth.

"You've just got to go about it like any three outs," Russell said. "It could be the first, the ninth, the fourth, fifth, it doesn't matter. You've still just got to go out there and make your pitches, that's the bottom line."