MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs continue to back Carlos Marmol as legal issues surround their closer in the Dominican Republic.
Team president Theo Epstein said Marmol was still supposed to fly into Phoenix on Sunday night and report to camp on time. Marmol’s representatives have argued that this alleged assault case is attempted blackmail.
Epstein gave a measured response during a Fitch Park news conference: “We’ll see if he does, but our understanding is that he’ll be on schedule.” But it became amplified once he was asked about it again after the cameras were off him. The Cubs have looked into the civil case and remain confident that Marmol will be cleared.
[CUBS: Five big-picture questions for spring training]
“It’s the organization’s responsibility to take all accusations of that nature very seriously,” Epstein said. “Any possible incident like that – especially if it involves a woman – you have to take it extremely seriously.
“We don’t necessarily have all the information. Obviously, we weren’t there. (But) every piece of information that we’ve been able to gather backs up Carlos’ story that he’s guilty of no wrongdoing whatsoever and may in fact be the victim here if this case continues to be pursued like this.”
This incident reportedly occurred in October, and the Cubs nearly traded Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels in early November, before medical and financial concerns forced them to back out of the Dan Haren deal.
Epstein said the front office only recently “became aware of (the situation) through the media reports.”
Marmol – who has limited no-trade rights – will earn $9.8 million in the final year of his contract and will be pushed by Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, who saved 220 games for the Hanshin Tigers.
[RELATED: Fujikawa hopes to make closer decision tough for Cubs]
This comes almost one year after Starlin Castro reported to camp under the cloud of a sexual-assault investigation. The All-Star shortstop met with Chicago police, though ultimately Cook County prosecutors declined to file charges against him.
The Cubs used that as a talking point last spring and brought in experts from the Northeastern University Center for Sport in Society to educate their players on how to handle fame, the spotlight and social situations.
Northeastern – which has run similar seminars for the Boston Red Sox – will make another presentation to minor-league players in Mesa this spring. The Cubs plan to use Sport in Society representatives at their big-league camp every other year to keep the message fresh.
[KAP: Mark Prior wants one more shot]
In the meantime, the Cubs will continue to take Marmol’s side in a very public way.
“All we can do is evaluate it on the merits,” Epstein said. “So far, what we’ve seen backs Carlos’ story and we’re going to continue to support him. And we do expect that this matter will be behind him shortly, based on the way it’s proceeding in the Dominican courts.”