Thursday, August 1, 2013
Marmol returns, happy to be a Dodger
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- He saved 117 games for the Chicago Cubs from 2006 to 2013 but it's the 28 blown saves and countless other nerve wracking moments in his final years that Carlos Marmol will probably be most remembered for.
He returns as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers after a trade last month that brought the Cubs reliever Matt Guerrier.
For Marmol, the past is exactly that.
"The Cubs, for Carlos Marmol, that's over," he said before the start of a four-game series between the clubs on Thursday. "I'm a Dodger now."
After all the years wearing a Cubs uniform, Marmol had never been in the visiting locker room until Thursday and when pushed to reflect on his time in Chicago he said making the playoffs in 2007 and 2008 were his best memories. But that was a long time ago. His most recent ones are of getting booed nearly every time he took the mound. He's always tried to block it out.
"I never worry about the fans," Marmol said.
Marmol's problems started after three consecutive seasons of appearing in 77 or more games. The toll may have caught up with him starting in 2011 when he blew 10 saves and had an ERA of 4.01. He began to find his form again at the end of 2012 but the beginning of 2013 was back to being a struggle.
"Maybe it was mechanical," Marmol said. "The beginning of this season is over. Have to think about the second half ... I've never been in this situation, get traded and play on another team. Especially when you spend a lot of time in one place. I'm happy here and enjoy it here."
He holds no grudges nor has any regrets. He was sent to the minors when he was traded and now he's playing on a first-place team. Marmol has only appeared in two games with the Dodgers and has struggled, giving up four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings for a 13.50 ERA.
"They have to do what's best for the team," Marmol said of the Cubs front office. "I don't mind it. Tell Theo [Epstein] he made a good move. I'm a Dodger and in first place."
He laughed when he said that and while he says he doesn't care what the fans think he did state he feels bad for them. The losing wasn't fun for anyone. And now he gets to face his former friends. He was asked about the fan reaction when he takes the mound.
"I don't know what it's going to be," Marmol said. "I hope I strike out all three that I face."
Like Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza, the Cubs had nothing but good things to say about their former teammate. He was always a good soldier despite his struggles. He never left his teammates to answer the questions meant for him. But now they want to repay him by doing what opponents have done to him often lately -- get hits off him.
"I'm happy for him," catcher Dioner Navarro said. "I hope he stays healthy and does what he has to do to stay at this level."
No one knows what he throws better than a former catcher. Navarro was asked if laying off his infamous slider and hitting the fastball was his game plan against Marmol.
"Ha, something like that," Navarro said with a laugh. "Try to be as patient as I can and hopefully get a hit off him."
As for his former manager, Dale Sveum was asked the same question: What's the strategy when Marmol enters the game.
"I think that goes unsaid," he said.