Theo Epstein has vowed that his front office will block out all the noise while making decisions. But the Cubs president certainly pays attention to what is written and what is said.
Wrigley Field has no patience for Carlos Marmol anymore. You can hear it from the crowd at the first sign of trouble. This probably isnt the best place for a demoted closer to try to win back his job.
But Marmol was back beating his chest late Monday night after escaping an eighth-inning jam in a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. He said the negative reactions from the fans forced him to focus after walking the first two batters.
Epstein who inherited Marmols 20 million contract, which still has a balance of more than 15 million through next season liked that response.
He put it well, Epstein said Tuesday. The way to work through it in this environment is to take the feedback that he gets sometimes and turn it into a positive. Last night he said that the booing kind of motivated him, because he knew he had to get it right and thats a mature approach.
Ballplayers are mainly (driven internally), but you cant help but notice when things like that are going on. So you might as well turn it into a positive.
Marmol earned that big contract with a lights-out season in 2010, saving 38 games in 43 chances and notching 138 strikeouts. Last year he led the majors with 10 blown saves. He entered Tuesday with a 5.06 ERA and 15 walks in 10 23 innings.
Everyone has to recognize he wants to succeed as much as anyone else, Epstein said. No one wants to go out there and fail, especially in a role where you let your teammates down. But hes paid a lot of money to do a job and hes got a lot of support around him. So its up to him to put the work in to go out and fix himself.
But I havent seen any signs of him backing down. So as long as he gives the effort and faces his challenges head-on, were going to support him and help him get where he needs to be.
People whove followed Marmols career since he was just a young kid out of the Dominican Republic remember how long it took the organization to finally convince him to convert to pitching.
Marmol viewed himself as a better hitter than the talent evaluators did. Theres still a stubborn streak, a reluctance to go away from his slider, the one pitch that once made him one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.
Since the start of spring training, manager Dale Sveum and his coaching staff have been trying to get Marmol to trust his fastball. Even if that happens, theres not necessarily a guarantee that the bullpen will take the same shape again.
I didnt say he did have to (go back in the closers role), Sveum said. Theres a possibility if hes throwing well and hes throwing his fastball and he shows me that hes capable of doing it again.
Kerry Woods right shoulder still isnt ready to handle pitching on back-to-back days. The Cubs like the poise and stuff shown by Rafael Dolis, a 24-year-old rookie. Closing is in the DNA of left-hander James Russell, whose father Jeff saved 186 games in the big leagues.
They will be given an opportunity to borrow a phrase from the front office to grab the job by the throat.
If Dolis is doing well and Russell (succeeds) in that role, Sveum said, Im not going to make change (just) to make change.
Maybe Marmol will find more motivation in that message.