Morning Newsletter

Cubs replace closer after blown save

Nationals: Harper here to stay?

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo says it's going to be tough to send 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper back to the minors if he keeps playing the way he has so far in the majors. At a speaking appearance at the National Press Club on Friday, Rizzo says he's been following a plan for Harper, but "we're not dumb."

Rizzo adds: "You never know when they're fully ready until you get them there, and they prove that they're ready."

Harper is hitting third in Washington's lineup and starting in left field. He entered Friday's game against the Phillies with a .375 average, four doubles and three RBI in 16 at-bats.

Buckner ball sells for $418,250

The baseball that rolled through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series has been sold at auction for $418,250. Heritage Auctions says the ball was sold Friday in Dallas to a buyer who wants to remain anonymous. The sale price includes the buyer's premium.

After watching Carlos Marmol blow another ninth-inning lead in an all-too-familiar fashion, Cubs Manager Dale Sveum decided enough was enough. Sveum brought Marmol into his office Friday and told the erratic right-hander he was removing him from the closer's role, deciding to try a committee at the back end of games while hoping someone will step up and seize the role.

The move came one day after a particularly embarrassing blown opportunity in Cincinnati, when Marmol blew a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning against the Reds. Marmol walked three batters and gave up a hit. He has two blown saves in four chances this season and a 6.23 ERA.

"He knows he has to get better ... If he starts pitching well and getting command back and stuff like that there's no reason I wouldn't put him back in the closing role if he finds it again," Manager Dale Sveum said.

James Russell and Rafael Dolis figure to get most of the save opportunities in the meantime.

Short hops

■ The Dodgers are off to their best start in years, and Manager Don Mattingly thinks Bobby Abreu makes the NL West leaders even better. Abreu, 38, signed with the Dodgers on Friday, insisting he was OK with a reserve role after years as a regular with the Angels, Phillies and Yankees. The move gives Los Angeles another seasoned lefty bat on the bench to use late in games. The Dodgers will pay $401,311 of Abreu's $9 million salary for this year.

■ Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was reinstated and was eligible to play Friday night against the White Sox, though he was not in the starting lineup. Young was suspended for seven days without pay by Major League Baseball after he was arrested last week and charged with yelling anti-Semitic epithets during a late-night tussle at a New York hotel.

■ The Twins claimed outfielder Erik Komatsu off waivers from the Cardinals. The 24-year-old Komatsu had four hits in 19 at-bats and two walks in 15 games for St. Louis.

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