MILWAUKEE — Dan Haren is leaning toward retirement after making these 11 high-pressure starts for the Cubs.
“I would say right now the chances are that this will probably be it,” Haren said Sunday morning inside Miller Park’s visiting clubhouse. “But I don’t want to say this is it and then pull a Brett Favre.”
The fact that Haren is still pitching — as a hired gun for the Cubs in a pennant race — is sort of crazy. Considering that Theo Epstein’s front office let the Carlos Marmol deal with the Los Angeles Angels collapse over concerns about Haren’s medical background after the 2012 season.
The Cubs probably would have flipped Haren for prospects during the middle of a 96-loss season, which saw Marmol lose the closer’s job in early April 2013.
Now the Cubs are banking on Haren to stabilize their rotation, acquiring the battle-tested veteran from the Miami Marlins during the final hours before the July 31 trade deadline.
Haren — a bright, easy-going guy who stood in front of his locker chatting with reporters — hasn’t spoken to any Cubs officials about why they killed that trade with the Angels.
“I exchanged some texts with Theo the last few days,” Haren said. “He expressed how excited he was to have me. But, no, I never really revisited that. I still don’t know the particulars of what went down.
“I don’t know if my medical reports were bad. But I’ve always taken pride in making all my starts. I’ve made a lot of starts for a lot of years in a row. I’ve had a knack throughout my career for pitching every five days, no matter what.”
Haren — who will turn 35 in September — is now on track to hit 30 starts and double-digit victories for the 11th consecutive season. Three years ago, the Cubs had reservations about how his hip and back would hold up (conditions that might be traced back to when he pitched at Pepperdine University).
“I’ve had issues, but nothing that’s kept me off the field,” Haren said. “When you have as many innings as I’ve had, and as much wear and tear, the medical report’s going to be pretty long when you get to this point in my career.
“It might scare some people. But at this point, I’m here for two months, and I plan on making all my starts. I’ll make the most of the time here, for sure.”
Haren went 7-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts for the Marlins, getting by with guts, experience and the diminished velocity reflected on his Twitter handle: @ithrow88.
“I know I’m not the flamethrower I once was,” Haren said, “but I’ve gotten a lot smarter as a pitcher. I’ve gotten a lot better at putting together scouting reports and sticking to them and being able to locate pitches.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]
“I expect to do the same thing I’ve pretty much been doing all year, which is (keeping) the team in the game almost every time I’m out there. We got a young, exciting offense. It will be fun to get out there.”
Haren, a three-time All-Star, will make his first start in a Cubs uniform on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. There were bigger names, longer-term assets and harder throwers out there, but the Cubs needed someone with that bulldog mentality.
“The Marlins weren’t really going anywhere,” Haren said, “so I’m definitely thankful for the Cubs grabbing me and putting me in a pennant race.”