CHICAGO -- Bad luck and trouble have been the only friends of Chicago Cubs relievers this season.
A bullpen that has now been torn apart and put back together a number of times in the first 50 games of the season will have to move on without setup man Kyuji Fujikawa. The 32-year-old right-hander will miss all of 2013 and at least half of 2014 with right elbow ligament replacement surgery.
Only lefty James Russell has retained his original role planned from spring training.
"Depth is what you need in the game," manager Dale Sveum said. "Everybody has their problems and everybody has their injuries. Obviously we just got hit with a big blow. Other people just have to step up and fill those roles and do the best we can."
Originally the bullpen was set up with Carlos Marmol as the closer, Russell as one set up man and Fujikawa as the other. All of that changed with Marmol ‘s ineffectiveness and Fujikawa's second arm injury of the season.
"With all the injuries that we have it has definitely slowed any flow we can get going," said Kevin Gregg, who took over the closer role after signing as a free agent in April. "I think all the teams that compete and get deep in the playoffs and win a World Series have a solid bullpen."
The Cubs are light years away from any World Series talk. At this juncture of the season they would just like to stay competitive.
"This is definitely a big loss for us," Russell said. "Fuji was a great arm for us and he is essentially a veteran guy even if he was new to American baseball. He fit in with his fun personality as well. He will be missed. At the same time some of the young guys can step up and make a case for themselves."
The Cubs' former closer will not be satisfied until he regains his role.
"I am a closer in my mind," Marmol said. "I am sorry we lost Fujikawa; he was an important part of the 'pen. Gregg has done a great job for us; he deserves the job, but my idea is to help the team win and pitch my way back to being a consistent pitcher."
Marmol knows in order to close again he may have to be traded.
"My situation is a little tough right now," Marmol said. "I want to get back to my role. You never know what is going to happen."
The bullpen has been much improved as of late, carrying a 1.05 ERA (two earned runs in 17 innings) in their past six games.