MESA, Ariz. Sean Marshall had the perfect temperament to play at Wrigley Field.
Nothing seemed to bother Marshall, who never complained when the Cubs moved him in and out of the rotation. That sense of calm surrounded him while he evolved into perhaps the best left-handed reliever in the game.
Once the initial shock wore off, Marshall knew why Theo Epsteins front office engineered a four-player trade with the Cincinnati Reds just before Christmas.
I understood the moves they were making, Marshall said. I know its a business and Ive been lucky to be on the same team. I see lefties move all over the league each year, so I was lucky for my time in Chicago. From a business aspect, thats just the way it goes.
Marshall is reunited with Dusty Baker his manager when he broke into the big leagues in 2006 on a team built to win now. He threw one scoreless inning in an 8-6 loss to the Cubs on Monday at HoHoKam Stadium, and the Cubs werent going to find him enough high-leverage situations.
The 29-year-old Marshall who could have become a free agent after making 3.1 million this season decided against testing the market. He recently agreed to a three-year, 16.5 million extension with the Reds, closing the door on a return to the Cubs.
It was something that we thought was a good idea for my family, Marshall said. I understand Ive been very lucky to be in a Cubs uniform for nine seasons. There are a lot of players that get traded every couple years. (I) was always thankful for all my days at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs shipped out Marshall because they think Travis Wood, 25, could be in the rotation for years, and they also got useful pieces in outfielder Dave Sappelt and infield prospect Ronald Torreyes. Marshall could have been gone in months (though even now he still plans to keep his house in the Chicago area).
This could leave a huge hole in the bullpen.
Combined Marshall appeared in 158 games across the last two seasons. He finished last year with a 2.26 ERA and can get left-handed and right-handed hitters out. He would have been an option if closer Carlos Marmol who on Monday walked two and gave up three runs in one inning doesnt return to form.
The Cubs need to identify a second setup man to go along with Kerry Wood. Lefty James Russell who sought out Marshall on the field before Mondays game would like the job.
I know hes been looking forward to the opportunity, Marshall said. I think hes more than capable of doing what I did.
Russell became one of several young pitchers who gravitated toward Marshall over the years. Whether it was leading the relievers out for their pregame routine or at his locker showing them new electronic gadgets, teammates wanted to be around him.
Consistency, really, what else is there to say about Sean? Jeff Samardzija said. Im not just talking about on the field. Sean was great off the field, too. He came in every day and did his work and showed the younger guys how youre supposed to do it. He meant a lot to us.
Marshall saw so much in a Cubs uniform. He pitched for Baker and Lou Piniella. He played with Greg Maddux and Mark Prior, Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano. He finished in first place and last. Win or lose, you could find him at his locker.
I loved every moment I spent there, Marshall said. Im kind of the enemy now, but I loved being a Cub. I wouldnt change it for the world.