Carlos Marmol noticed the empty seats on Memorial Day at U.S. Cellular Field and thought the fans were very quiet, the atmosphere not like what it used to be for the Cubs-Sox rivalry.
But that didn’t mean Marmol went unnoticed out in the right-field bullpen. He smiled while recalling what he heard the night before: “Marmol, you suck!”
“That’s what I hear every year, though, for the Cubs and the White Sox,” Marmol said before heavy rains and a severe thunderstorm postponed Tuesday’s game. “It’s pretty exciting out there. It’s good to be here.
“There’s always somebody out there yelling at you, but it’s kind of fun.”
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Marmol loves the city and in a sense feels like it’s his second home after the Dominican Republic. Now in his 14th year in the organization, he repeated what he’s said all along: “I grew up in here, with the Cubs. I don’t want to go (anywhere).”
The Cubs are 20-30 and approaching the possibility of another fire sale that could see the front office shed short-term assets like pitchers Matt Garza and Scott Feldman, new closer Kevin Gregg and outfielder David DeJesus.
“We’re not there yet. We’re not worried about that,” manager Dale Sveum said. “If it happens, it happens, but it’s not something that I think about.”
The Cubs are already 13.5 games out of first place in the National League Central, getting buried by the St. Louis Cardinals (34-17), Cincinnati Reds (33-19) and Pittsburgh Pirates (32-20).
“I still feel like we were playing really well before this last week,” general manager Jed Hoyer said after a 1-5 road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. “You always hold out hope that you can string things together and make a run. It’s really hard in this division, I’ll say that.
“It is still fairly early. You do want to still see these guys fight through it and hopefully get on a run. But, yeah, at some point there is a finite amount of time between now and July 31 and every week that goes by we get closer.”
Marmol won’t be trusted as the closer on a contending team. But he once was an All-Star setup guy and seems to be clicking again. He’s allowed one run in his last seven appearances after putting together 10 consecutive scoreless outings between April 8 and May 2.
There are enough red flags with Kyuji Fujikawa (strained right forearm) that the Cubs may need to rethink their bullpen options and make contingency plans.
Marmol said he’s not thinking about his future as a free agent, but he won’t get another three-year contract and will have to take a pay cut from his $9.8 million salary this season.
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“I would love to come back,” Marmol said. “You never know. We’ll see what happens after this year.”
Marmol shrugged off the recent Spygate incident during a meeting with his representatives in the lobby/lounge of his apartment building, but that’s just how he’s wired. Whether he’s racking up saves or getting booed and looking lost on the mound, he’s always accountable and standing up at his locker.
“That’s what you have to do,” Marmol said. “You learn that from the veteran guys that taught you to do that. It’s something you do and you feel (better afterward). If I don’t talk to you, later in the day I’m going to feel bad, because I know it’s your job to try to get information. That’s kind of me, though. I’m open for everybody.”
Whether it’s from the fans or the media, Marmol never takes the criticism personally, which is a survival skill in this market.
“This is your job,” he said. “You got to write something. I don’t care.”