Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010
By Patrick Mooney
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.