Out of his hands, but Marmol hopes to retire a Cub

Out of his hands, but Marmol hopes to retire a Cub

Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010
1:13 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Carlos Marmol will turn 28 next month, after the end of his 11th year in the Cubs organization, and someday he will likely return full-time to his ranch in the Dominican Republic.

Marmol signed when Jim Riggleman managed the team (1999), broke into the majors with Dusty Baker (2006) and became an All-Star under Lou Piniella (2008). His paychecks have been signed by two different ownership groups.

In his first full season as closer, Marmol has been surrounded by 18 rookies 11 have made a big-league debut and 18 other relievers in a bullpen that once caused Piniella so much anxiety.

I dont feel old, Marmol said. Every year I go through I feel more comfortable here. (Id) like to stay my whole career here thats what Im looking for. Well see what happens. You never know.

Its way too early to tell how it will all end for Marmol, whos making 2.125 million this season and will again be eligible for arbitration this winter. But he does feel grateful for the opportunities hes been given in Chicago, a city he loves, even when the fans boo him at Wrigley Field.

With his wicked slider, Marmol began Friday with a career-high 118 strikeouts, more than any other reliever in the majors. Hes on pace to break the single-season franchise record for a reliever set by Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.

Sutter attacked hitters with his splitter. Mariano Rivera the one closer Marmol really likes to watch baffles everyone with his cutter after running through the Yankee Stadium gate to Metallicas Enter Sandman.

Trevor Hoffman earned the 600th save of his career this week in Milwaukee. Like Marmol, the Brewers reliever has relied on one dominant pitch (changeup) and is a converted position player.

Hoffman started out as an infielder in the Cincinnati Reds system in 1989. Marmol, a former catcher, doesnt think anyone will touch Hoffmans major-league record.

Carlos Zambrano walked off the mound Friday night to a mixture of cheers and boos from the crowd of 30,975 still remaining at Miller Park. With two runners on and two outs in the ninth inning, Marmol threw one pitch, an 83 mph slider.

Casey McGehee flied out to right. Marmol notched his 29th save of the season, and the 52nd of his career. That secured a 4-0 victory over the Brewers.

When leads are not handled late, (that) can wear on a club big-time, Cubs manager Mike Quade said. (A good closer is a) piece of the puzzle that youd kill to have.

Whatever happens that night, Marmol has to forget it by the next day. On Friday afternoon, he was literally dancing in the clubhouse, telling a story to a group of Latin players sitting near the lockers of Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez.

That night Marmol watched the McGehee at-bat on a laptop and then playfully smacked a rookie reliever on the back of the head as he left the clubhouse.

One pitch! he yelled.

Marmol knows that he has to be easy-going. If you let the blown saves stick in your head, well, he didnt even have to say anything to finish the thought. He just made the throat-slash gesture.

Marmol loves baseball, but hasnt given any thought to how long hell play before he goes back home to his farm. He says he wont stick around until hes 42, like Hoffman.

Ill be at my pool, Marmol said. No chance.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

The Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Catch first pitch at 6 p.m. with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks (15-8, 2.06 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73 ERA)

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David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

CHICAGO — David Ross got fired up when Cubs manager Joe Maddon walked to the mound with two out in the seventh inning, ready to argue for Jon Lester to stay in the game.

Maddon and Lester had a different plan.

"Joe looked at him and said 'Have you ever been a part of where the catcher gets taken out of the game before the pitcher?'" Lester said, describing the scene with a big grin. "You can just see him, it's like the kid at the candy store when you tell him he can pick out whatever he wants.

"It was just like the disbelief in his face and slams his mask back over his face and all he can say is 'I love you guys. I love you guys. I love you guys.'"

Ross then walked off to another standing ovation from a raucous crowd of 40,859 at Wrigley Field, part of a heartwarming Sunday night for the backup catcher in his last season. He also hit his 10th homer and teamed with Lester for another scoreless performance, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was an amazing night," Ross said.

Ben Zobrist had three hits and scored two runs as Chicago finished with a major league-best 57-24 home record. It's the most home wins for the Cubs since they went 58-19 at the West Side Grounds in 1910.

The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games, wasting a chance to improve their playoff positioning. They remain a half-game back of San Francisco for the second NL wild card after the Giants lost 4-3 at San Diego earlier in the day.

"I think we're in a good position right now," pitcher Carlos Martinez said through a translator. "I also think we have a great shot at winning the World Series."

Ross, Lester's regular catcher, was greeted with a long standing ovation when he came to the plate in the second inning. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina walked halfway to the mound, forcing the unassuming Ross to take in the moment, and he took off his batting helmet to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

Ross then struck out, but he got another chance in the fifth and drove Martinez's second pitch over the wall in left for 1-0 lead. Ross clapped his hands as he rounded first on his 10th homer and the cheers continued after he reached the dugout, prompting a curtain call.

"It was just fitting that David would hit a home run, isn't it?" Maddon said. "I mean it had to have happened tonight."

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Lester (19-4), one of the top candidates for the NL Cy Young Award, struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked one while improving to 10-0 with 1.34 ERA in his last 13 starts.

It was Lester's idea to pull Ross in the middle of an inning.

"He's like a brother to me and for him to give me that was pretty cool," Ross said.

The Cardinals pulled within one on Jhonny Peralta's two-out RBI single in the eighth, but Brandon Moss flied to center with runners on the corners. Willson Contreras responded with an RBI single in the bottom half and Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 16th save with the NL Central champions and No. 36 on the year.

Martinez (15-9), pitching with a heavy heart after the death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boating accident, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked four.

"He had lots of juice," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's probably the hardest sinker I've ever seen him throw. A couple of those were 97 (mph). He was locked in. He wanted it bad today, and he was good enough for us to win."