Wednesday's talk centered on the beleaguered Marmol, who walked three and hit a batter in Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Phillies. Marmol hardly resembles the pitcher who dominated out of the bullpen for the Cubs the past two seasons.
In 54 2/3 innings, he has walked 52 batters and hit 11. Last season, he pitched 87 1/3 innings, walking only 41 while hitting six.
Everyone from Piniella to Marmol to pitching coach Larry Rothschild contends that Marmol's problems are mechanical, stemming from his leg kick and rushing the ball toward the plate.
"I think when he goes out there, he probably tries to overthrow the ball," Piniella said. "You look at his stuff, if he can just figure out a way to get it over the plate, he can have a lot of fun."
And therein lies part of the problem. When Marmol does get the ball over the plate, he can be extremely tough to hit, as evidenced by only 30 hits off him.
If Piniella does have to veer away from Marmol, he said he could use lefty John Grabow or right-hander Angel Guzman. Marmol got an inning of mop-up work in Wednesday and retired all three batters he faced.
PHILLIES 12, CUBS 5: RHP Jeff Samardzija gave up eight hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in his first major league start. The Phillies put across eight runs in the fourth, touching LHP Sean Marshall for two three-run homers.
--Samardzija was demoted to Class AAA Iowa Thursday, one night after allowing seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in his first big league start. RHP Justin Berg, 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 30 games at Iowa, was recalled. Berg was recalled once by the Cubs earlier this season but did not pitch and was optioned back to Iowa.
--C Geovany Soto got Wednesday night off, with Koyie Hill starting behind the plate. Soto likely will start Thursday afternoon.
"We need Soto to swing the bat a little better than he has," Piniella said. "It's been awhile. We've got to be a little patient and give him time. But we'll continue to use both of them."
Soto came off the disabled list last Friday after recovering from a left oblique strain.
--LHP Ted Lilly worked five scoreless innings Wednesday in a rehab start for low Class A Peoria. He gave up two hits, both in the first inning. Lilly walked one and struck out two, throwing 58 pitches, 45 for strikes. If he comes back feeling OK, there's a good chance he'll start Monday for the Cubs at San Diego. He's recovering from left shoulder inflammation and arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
--SS Ryan Theriot extended his hitting streak to six games as he raised his season batting average to .300. He is 12-for-28 in the streak. Theriot has 40 multi-hit games.
--RF Milton Bradley went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He is 12-for-27 in the streak.