Cubs won’t trade Carlos Marmol soon, but it’s coming sometime
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 8, 2013 9:28PM
Carlos Marmol, nearly traded last November, has been less than impressive this spring. | Morry Gash~AP
Updated: April 10, 2013 6:17AM
MESA, Ariz. — Cubs closer Carlos Marmol isn’t going anywhere in the next few weeks, despite the latest breathless report this past week suggesting he’ll be traded before the season starts.
But that doesn’t mean the Cubs don’t have designs on moving him this summer once he presumably re-establishes some trade value and once Kyuji Fujikawa establishes himself in the big leagues.
Top team officials, who came within minutes of trading Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels in November, have told Marmol’s agent to expect it. And Marmol, who has limited no-trade rights, has provided the club with the five teams he’s willing to accept a trade to.
‘‘I don’t worry about that,’’ said Marmol, whose efforts to block out the uncertainty of his status with the Cubs aren’t reflected in any early spring command problems. ‘‘I just keep working here.
‘‘I can’t make the decision. The boss guy makes that decision. I can’t worry about that. The only thing I have to worry about is to be ready every time they give me the ball.’’
Marmol, who makes $9.8 million in the final year of his contract, is still working on that — specifically working on his slider the last time out — but with little to show so far, albeit in spring training.
In 32/3 innings over four appearances, Marmol has allowed nearly as many base runners (nine) as he has recorded outs (11), including four walks and a hit batter.
Trade bait for a team that needs a closer?
‘‘He can’t close,’’ said one high-level evaluator for a projected contender who said he left for the bathroom when Marmol came into a recent game. ‘‘I knew he’d still be there when I got back.’’
Marmol was. He mixed a wild pitch into a lengthy inning that also included two walks and exhausted his pitch limit before he got a third out.
Still, he swears, the rumors and uncertainty have no effect on him.
In fact, when asked if he believes he’ll be traded at some point this year, he said Friday, ‘‘I don’t believe anything. . . . Whatever the decision they make here, well, I’ve got nothing to do with it.’’
NOTES: Already assured of the bulk of starts in right field, lefty-hitting Nate Schierholtz could win the every-day job without sharing time with Scott Hairston or another right-handed hitter, Sveum said.
Schierholtz, who starts in right field on Saturday against Cleveland Indians left-hander David Huff, is 3-for-8 with a triple and walk in an extremely limited look against lefties so far this spring (4-for-10, double, homer vs. right-handers).
‘‘He’s had good at-bats off lefties,’’ said Sveum, who plans to rotate Hairston and a fifth (right-handed) outfielder through right and center (where lefty David DeJesus starts). ‘‘You’ve got to make that decision because sometimes you don’t want to platoon because you might be giving up too much on defense to warrant it sometimes. Those are obviously things where we’ll cross those paths when we get to them.’’
◆ Right-hander Matt Garza (strained latissimus dorsi) is expected to start playing catch again Sunday or Monday, Sveum said.
◆ Shortstop Starlin Castro (hamstring) is hitting in the cage and lightly running, and could be ready to return to the lineup either Monday or Wednesday.
Cubs 1, Reds 1 (RAIN)
WHAT THE HAIL? Heavy rain and hail storms that swept across the Phoenix area all day Friday forced the game to be called in the second. It was the Cubs’ first of five night games on the spring schedule. In the first, Scott Hairston hit a two-out home run and Alfonso Soriano doubled.
BENCH WATCH: The most versatile fielder in camp, former White Sox utility man Brent Lillibridge, is nearing a week sidelined with a left groin strain but could return either the day before or after Tuesday’s scheduled day off. ‘‘I’m just nursing my leg: I’m just getting back to make sure I’m healthy,” said Lillibridge, who maintains the inside track on a roster spot — especially considering he already has played every infield and every outfield position this spring.
CACTUS JACKED? A day after hitting 89 mph during a two-inning simulated game, Scott Baker said Friday his surgically repaired arm feels well enough to take the next step in a cautious-and-steady buildup after Tommy John surgery. That’s a minor-league spring start Tuesday, which could be followed five days later by a big-league spring debut for his new team. Said manager Dale Sveum: ‘‘Barring setbacks or anything, he’s perfectly right on the schedule we planned out right from the beginning.’’
SPRING CLEANING: The Cubs made their first three cuts of camp to trim the spring roster to 59. Outfield prospect Matt Szczur was optioned to Class AA Tennessee; right-hander Dayan Diaz and catcher Michael Brenly were assigned to minor-league camp.
ON DECK: Cleveland Indians at Cubs, HoHoKam Stadium, 2:05 p.m. (720-AM), Brooks Raley vs. David Huff.