Marmol-Cubs split has helped both parties
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 1, 2013 11:16PM
DODGERS at Cubs
The facts: 3:05 p.m., Ch. 9,
The starters: Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-3, 3.14 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (7-7, 2.79).
Updated: September 3, 2013 7:54AM
Former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol never thought about sitting in the visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field.
‘‘It’s a little weird,’’ he said.
And he definitely never dreamed he would be able to say this, especially a month ago: ‘‘How ’bout first place, man?’’
So while he hasn’t exactly been lights-out for the Los Angeles Dodgers since the Cubs dumped him in a trade a month ago, Marmol made a triumphant return Thursday to Wrigley Field — at least in spirit and in the National League West standings.
And just before catching up with all his old friends from the Cubs before the opener of a four-game series, Marmol — the lightning-rod reliever whose departure was hastened by the sideshow his struggles had become — declared his Wrigley woes and love-hate relationship with the fans done.
‘‘The Cubs for Carlos Marmol [are] over,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s it. I’m a Dodger now. I’m happy being with the Dodgers.’’
If there’s one regret, he said, it’s that, ‘‘I feel bad for the fans [for not helping the Cubs win more].’’
But he has no hard feelings about the way things went down after his nearly three months of deep struggles and the heckling and booing of fans led to him
being designated for assignment in late June.
‘‘At some point, they had to make a move,’’ Marmol said. ‘‘They’ve got to do what’s better for the team, and I don’t mind. Tell [Cubs president] Theo [Epstein] that he made a good move. I’m a Dodger, in first place.’’
As happy as Marmol seemed, the move has been far better for the Cubs so far. Matt Guerrier , the struggling right-hander the Cubs got for Marmol, has a 2.38 ERA in 13 appearances since joining the Cubs’ bullpen and has earned raves from manager Dale Sveum.
‘‘The additions of [Pedro] Strop [in another trade the same day] and Guerrier have finally solidified a bullpen that was a little bit in shambles until they got here,’’ Sveum said.
Meanwhile, Marmol, who remains a symbol of a recent — and bygone — Cubs era, said he doesn’t know what to expect from fans if he gets a chance to pitch during the series.
‘‘But I hope I strike out all
three that I have to face,’’ he said with a smile.
And the Cubs’ approach, should they face their command-challenged former teammate?
‘‘It goes unsaid,’’ Sveum said.
The Cubs announced the signing of top-ranked Latin American amateur prospect Eloy Jimenez, 16, who had agreed to terms weeks ago. The outfielder signed for $2.8 million.
◆ Kyuji Fujikawa, the Japanese free agent who replaced Marmol as the Cubs’ closer in the first week of the season, stopped by the clubhouse two days ahead of his bobblehead-night promotion. He said he intends to return from Tommy John surgery in time to help the Cubs next summer before his two-year, $9.5 million contract runs out. He also said he intends to regain the closer job.
◆ The Cubs’ 14-13 July was their first winning month since they went 15-10 last July.