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Sveum: Marmol learned from last year

MESA, Ariz. -- There is still no word on whether closer Carlos Marmol will have to leave Chicago Cubs camp for his native Dominican Republic to deal with accusations of domestic abuse.

Manager Dale Sveum doesn't believe the situation has bothered Marmol, who has said he is innocent.

"He hasn't shown it because he's throwing the ball way better than last spring training," Sveum said. "I think he learned a lot last year about his fastball and how to use it. He's throwing strikes with his fastball."

If Marmol has figured some things out after years of relying on his slider it will increase his value either for the Cubs' bullpen or in a trade. Spring games might tell some of his story.

Castro talks: Shortstop Starlin Castro met the media Tuesday for the first time this spring and seems motivated to have a big season.

His talk of the Cubs being a lot better remain to be seen, but his insistence that he'll be better -- including mentally focused -- sounds convincing. He wants a Gold Glove, he wants to get on base more and he wants to hit for more power. And most of all he claims his mental lapses are a thing of the past.

Despite the ups and downs, Sveum played him in all 162 games last season, and probably will again.

"You put him out there," Sveum said. "He's not in the training room. He's not asking for days off or anything like that. We're a better team when he plays."

Bunting tournament: Round 1 continued in Sveum's annual spring training bunting competition. Winners included Jeff Samardzija and Michael Brenly. There was an issue with the pitcher though. Sveum throws to all contestants and after pitching in the "play-in" tournament over the weekend, he developed a blister.

"Too much to the front office the other day," he joked. "I just started throwing pitches all over the place."

Rainy day: It's expected to rain on Wednesday which doesn't leave many options for workouts not involving the weight room.

"Those kind of days you just wing it," Sveum said. "We might have to wait a little bit. If it's washed out we'll get our bullpens, take some BP and that's all you can do."