Bunt tournament brings out Carlos Marmol’s trash talk
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com February 27, 2012 7:42PM
Updated: March 29, 2012 8:15AM
MESA, Ariz. — Closer Carlos Marmol looked strange Monday as he walked between practice fields carrying his dark-stained maple bat like he knew what to do with it.
‘‘Garza, get ready to be losing!’’ Marmol yelled more than once to right-hander Matt Garza, his first-round opponent in the Cubs’ bunt tournament.
The schedule Monday featured some of the marquee matchups of the first round, including Marmol’s upset of Garza. Marmol trash-talked on each pitch.
Pitcher’s bracket favorite Ryan Dempster breezed past Trever Miller, and Marlon Byrd upset Reed Johnson. Geovany Soto, David DeJesus and Jeff Baker also won their matches.
But the finish of the tournament so far was manager Dale Sveum — entered only as a way to get the field to an even 64 — beating Kerry Wood when Wood’s final bunt rolled an inch off the 40-point line and into the 20-point box. That left him 10 points short.
‘‘I kind of got lucky the grass was growing the other way,’’ said Sveum, who advanced to face Dempster. ‘‘I thought I was done. I was going over to shake his hand.’’
The serious part of the tournament includes the chemistry-building that players already say is happening.
And, Sveum said, ‘‘It’s a fact that this tournament shows you guys that like to compete. You get a feeling of the guys bearing down and competing and some guys that aren’t competing as well. You get to know somebody a little bit through this tournament.’’
Sveum said he’s not ready to name his Opening Day starter, and he has arranged Dempster and Garza in the spring rotation to have the choice of aligning either one with the April 5 opener against the Washington Nationals.
Rodrigo Lopez will start the spring opener Sunday, with Dempster and Garza going Monday and Tuesday, respectively. If Garza pitches every fifth day without interruption, then his natural day would land April 5. If everybody were to get an extra day because of the March 21 day off, then Dempster would land April 5.
‘‘It’s set up where we’re good with whatever we decide,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘We won’t make that decision until about the middle of spring.’’
Wood sent a chill up the Cubs’ collective spine when he hit shortstop Starlin Castro on the right forearm with a batting-practice pitch.
Castro, who finished all his scheduled work, said he was fine despite sporting a sizable welt more than an hour later. No X-rays were necessary.
‘‘It sounded a little scarier [than it was],’’ Sveum said.
In light of Theo Epstein’s old team, the Boston Red Sox, banning alcohol in the clubhouse, Sveum said the Cubs haven’t discussed such a policy.