Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/25/12
CINCINNATI Sean Marshall feels fortunate to be the anointed one, the pitcher Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker put into the closer's role an emergency that surfaced quickly, forcing Baker to go to The Marshall Plan. That's not what Marshall expected when the Reds acquired him via trade over the winter from the Chicago Cubs. Marshall was a set-up man for the Cubs, and one of the best in the baseball business. He did his job in the eighth inning, then turned the ball over to closer Carlos Marmol so he could step into the isolated pressure cooker that is a closer. The Reds had signed free agent Ryan Madson to be their closer, an 8 million investment. The cash turned to shredded lettuce when Madson went down during spring training, an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery and a year of inactivity. Baker didn't hesitate. His man at the end of games would be Marshall. It is something Marshall aspired to be, but he didn't think it would arrive so soon. "Hey, they have a lot of good relief pitchers here, other guys they could have made the closer Aroldis Chapman, Logan Ondrusek, Nick Masset," said Marshall. Marshall did have a smidge of experience last season with the Cubs. On days Marmol was not available and during a period when Marmol was throwing caramel pitches, Marshall was used as the closer. And the 29-year-old left hander converted five. So far during this young season, Marshall is four-for-four in save opportunities for The Baker Boys, annexing his fourth save when he pperformed a nine-pitch 1-2-3 ninth inning Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants in a 4-2 victory. When Baker put the onus on Marshall's broad shoulders, he knew he didn't have to offer any advice Just give him the ball, pat him on the posterior, walk back to the dugout and turn him loose. "When a closer gets hurt, somebody usually emerges into the closing role," said Baker. "I've seen plenty of set-up guys who couldn't close who were great set-up guys. For some guys it is just the mentality of getting the last three outs the toughest outs to get." And then there are guys born to close, a mixture of blood and guts to get the glory. "Some guys really enjoy that challenge and embrace it," Baker added. "To be a great closer you have to have the ability to forget yesterday if it was negative. That's the biggest challenge not to carry that bad day into the next day. "Some can do it and some can't," Baker added. And he believes deep in his heart and soul that Marshall is the man and so far he is absolutely correct. "Marshall is doing well, he is doing real good," said Baker. "He is throwing the same and that's the main thing. You want them to throw the same as a closer as he did as a set-up guy. Don't try to invent stuff because you are the closer. "Marshall is at a point in his life and career that he knows who he is," Baker added. "He knows what he is capable of doing and incapable of doing. That's one of the things you learn last in your career. Some learn it early and some don't learn it at all." Marshall clearly went to school as a closer, preparing himself for just what the Reds have asked him to do. "It's nice to be named to this role, but it is all about doing the job and we have a few other guys who can do it, too," said Marshall. "I closed some games last year for the Cubs and I realized it is the same game," he said. "No matter what inning or who is hitting, you still have to make your pitches. It doesn't matter what the situation is, how loud it is, how the crowd reacts, as long as you make your pitches, tie game or one-run lead or two-run lead, it doesn't matter if it's the seventh, eighth or ninth." There is a difference in that when Marshall was a set-up man and didn't do his job, his team still had time to come back. As a closer, he is the end of the rope, end of the line, end of story. And he likes it that way "It's a little different, but it's fun and I've enjoy the three games I've been able to close. I look forward to more because it means the team is winning the game. "I know what works for me," said Marshall. "I know I can't blow fastballs past guys just because I've been named the closer. That's not my game. My game is to mix my pitches up, change speeds, slow the hitter down and it makes your fastball look as if it has more zip, even though I only throw 90 to 92 miles an hour. "I know I shouldn't change my approach because I've had some success the last two years," he said. "Stick to what works and I have a pretty good idea what works."
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