These might have been the most predictable moments for the home opener at Wrigley Field: Carlos Marmol getting booed during the pregame player introductions. And the ex-closer standing at his locker and answering any questions you’ve got.
Win or lose, Marmol never hides. The Cubs have turned him into a $9.8 million mop-up guy and Monday’s 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers became a chance to try to rebuild his confidence in front of 40,083 fans.
“I hear the boos,” Marmol said. “I don’t take it in a bad way. They pay the money to see us and the player’s not doing his job.”
The Cubs were down five runs when Marmol entered in the eighth inning and gave up a here-we-go-again leadoff double that Ryan Braun hammered into left-center field.
But Marmol managed to work around a wild pitch and a walk and escape with a scoreless inning that lowered his ERA to 16.88. His slider showed some more bite and got him two strikeouts. That won’t restore his trade value or quiet the noise, but the Cubs have to start somewhere.
“It’s tough,” outfielder David DeJesus said. “The whole place screaming at him – you don’t want that for any of your teammates. We hate that it’s like that, but that comes with Chicago. You gotta understand it, respect it. And he’s just got to keep putting in his time, putting some zeroes up and I think things will start changing.”
It took only three shaky outings before manager Dale Sveum demoted Marmol and installed Kyuji Fujikawa as the closer. The overwhelming sense from fans on social media was: What took so long?
“Completely supportive of Dale,” team president Theo Epstein said. “He’s made the right calls. Marmol bounced back last year to have a really solid second half and of course he should have started the year as our closer. You don’t lose your job because of two bad outings at the end of spring training. To do that would run counter to everything we believe in.
“This is a positive step for Marmol in the sense that he can fix himself in low-leverage situations. And it’s positive for the club because we can have some belief that we can win some of these games late.”
This is Marmol’s 14th year in the organization, so he understands it comes with the territory. He did an initial group interview and walked back to his locker to find another pack waiting. He waved off a team official telling reporters that the ex-closer had already spoken with the media.
“Of course (I understand the boos),” Marmol said. “I’m not the first one or the last one. I’m fine. I don’t care. I’m trying to do my job. I’m trying to get people out. That’s what I need.”