Marmol says he deserves the boos, and will take the heat

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Marmol says he deserves the boos, and will take the heat

When things go wrong, Carlos Marmol doesnt hide. The Cubs closer posts up at his locker and is willing to take the heat.

By now, Marmol knows the expectations around here, how much the fans want him to get the job done. So his reaction to all the booing at Wrigley Field is about what youd expect.

I deserve it all, Marmol said. Its OK.

The media pretty much left Marmol alone after Wednesdays 5-1 loss to the Cardinals. He had pitched a scoreless ninth inning, but thats not really a story.

Marmol can be an afterthought when the Cubs dont score runs and their rotation flickers in and out. The night before, Matt Holliday had muscled a 2-2 slider over the wall in left-center.

Marmol had waited 16 days for a save opportunity. Holliday a man with a World Series ring and a 120 million contract ruined it with a go-ahead, two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning.

I say it every time the games not easy, Marmol said. Anybody who thinks that game is easy is wrong.

That was essentially Dale Sveums takeaway, giving credit to Holliday, and not setting off any warning flares about Marmol, who has held the opponent scoreless in six of his last seven appearances.

The players respect that the Cubs manager appreciates how hard this game can be, and it will provide cover during a rebuilding year.

Its not that easy to always get a one-run save, Sveum said. The other guys on the other side of the fence are paid a lot of money to hit home runs. Sometimes they catch one. Other nights, its the same exact pitch and its a pop-up to the infield.

So theres no closer controversy here. Sveum gave Marmol the vote of confidence, but in the ninth inning theres really nowhere else to turn. Theres no timetable for Kerry Woods return from the disabled list.

Sean Marshall is closing for Dusty Baker in Cincinnati. Andrew Cashner is throwing 100 mph heat for San Diego. Jeff Samardzija got what he wanted, the chance to show he belongs in the rotation.

Lets be honest, weve taken away from the bullpen, Theo Epstein said near the end of spring training. Thats a huge void. Thats a good bullpen right there, just with those guys weve taken away.

Across the past six months, Epsteins front office has already stripped apart the bullpen, waved goodbye to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, and paid roughly 20 million to get rid of Carlos Zambrano and Marlon Byrd.

A closer whos owed almost 6.2 million for the rest of this season, and 9.8 million next season, could be considered a luxury item for a team thats in rebuilding mode.

Either way, the Cubs are looking toward the future, which is why theyre carrying Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, and hoping for breakthroughs from Rafael Dolis, James Russell and Michael Bowden out of the bullpen.

We knew coming in that was going to be an issue for us to address, Epstein said. To be honest with you, most clubs address it all year long. So whatever seven guys out of the pen we start the season withthats not necessarily the final answer.

Lets be realistic, theres going to be tweaking and adjusting based on performance and health and attrition throughout the course of a whole season. Its a challenge for us, given what weve taken out of the bullpen, but its also an opportunity.

Were going to be pretty young (and) inexperienced. Its a chance for some guys to develop over the course of this season.

They wont want to copy Marmols off-the-wall mechanics, but they could learn something from a guy with a short memory whos taken the ball 400 times for the Cubs.

I dont make excuses, Marmol said. Whatever you got, you give it that day.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Addison Russell planning to become next Cubs superstar

Addison Russell planning to become next Cubs superstar

MESA, Ariz. – Addison Russell earned his manager’s trust by playing “boring” defense, always making the routine plays at shortstop with textbook fundamentals. Even Russell’s agent called him an “old soul,” already serious about his craft and driven by quiet determination and husband-and-father responsibilities.

But the Cubs also know Russell as a moonwalking showman with the freaky athleticism to do Ozzie Smith backflips and make spectacular highlight-reel plays. And you could see the vroom-vroom, fist-pumping celebrations after yet another clutch hit.

“Ever since I was a little kid,” Russell said, “I always wanted to be on the big screen.”

Now Russell will try to make the leap to superstar, as one of the many personalities on a Cubs team that can crossover nationally and live forever in Chicago, just like the ’85 Bears, the way Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have built their brands.

“We got great ballplayers, beautiful faces on this team,” Russell said. “Just talent galore in this clubhouse, and that’s really cool to see, because these guys handle themselves like real, true professionals.”

The start of spring training is a reminder that Russell has still only spent one wire-to-wire season in The Show. He turned 23 last month and has already become a World Series champion, the youngest player in franchise history to start an All-Star Game and the first Cub shortstop to reach 95 RBI since Ernie Banks in 1960.

Russell’s World Series grand slam helped him accumulate the most postseason RBI (14) in club history – after putting up 11 game-winning RBI for a 103-win team. FanGraphs also had Russell tying San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford for the major-league lead with 19 defensive runs saved at shortstop.

“Really, the sky’s the limit,” manager Joe Maddon said. “This guy is scratching the surface. He is that good. Know thyself – I think that’s what’s happening with a lot of our young guys. They’re understanding themselves better. And as they do, their game’s going to continue to improve.

“So with Addie, listen, he could be an annual All-Star, there’s no question. Beyond that, he’s just such a gifted athlete, so quick, and he cares so much. And he’s really turned out to be a good self-evaluator, so all those are components to creating a superstar.”

Russell said he’s working with Boras Corp. on potential endorsements with Pepsi and Audi. He visited a Nike headquarters in Oregon to help design his custom cleats and custom glove. He also posted images from the White House on his social-media accounts, which have nearly 549,000 followers combined between Twitter and Instagram.

“The opportunities are coming, which is great,” Russell said. “It’s a whole new playing field. I’m glad that I’m getting to see a different side of baseball, where I can actually find a couple talents off the baseball field. It’s all interesting stuff.”

It’s also taken some getting used to, as he almost had trouble remembering how many “Addison Russell Days” there were in Florida, between events at Pace High School and with the Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners.

“This whole fame thing is really new to me,” Russell said. “Walking everywhere, people want autographs and stuff. Different airports, different cities, it’s very humbling. It’s a great blessing. I’m just a small-town guy, so it hit me pretty hard.”

Like the moment Russell realized what the Cubs just did, after the whirlwind of riding in the championship parade down Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue, standing on stage in front of millions at the Grant Park rally and going to Disney World.

“I remember this past offseason, going into my mom’s room and laying down on her bed,” Russell said. “That’s when all the memories of this past year – all the way from spring training (to) the All-Star Game and then the World Series run – it all hit me at once. It was overbearing, kind of, and I started crying.

“That’s when it sunk in. It was just a magical moment.”