Carlos Marmol never thought about sitting on this side of Wrigley Field, in the visitors clubhouse – “it’s a little weird.”
He definitely never dreamed of this part, especially a month ago: “How ‘bout first place, man?”
So while he hasn’t exactly been lights-out for the Los Angeles Dodgers since the Cubs dumped him in a trade a month ago, it was a triumphant return Marmol made to Wrigley Field on Thursday – at least in spirit and National League West standing.
And just before catching up with all his old friends from the Cubs before Thursday’s opener of a four-game series, Marmol – the lightning rod reliever whose exit was hastened by the “sideshow” his struggles had become – declared his Wrigley woes and love-hate relationship with the fans done.
“The Cubs for Carlos Marmol is over,” he said. “That’s it. I’m a Dodger now. I’m happy being with the Dodgers.”
If there’s one regret, said the Cubs’ former closer, it’s that “I feel bad for the fans [for not helping win more].”
But he has no hard feelings about the way things went down after his nearly three months of deep struggles and heckling and booing from fans led to him being designated for assignment in late June.
“At some point they had to make a move,” said Marmol, an All-Star in 2008. “They’ve got to do what’s better for the team, and I don’t mind. Tell Theo that he made a good move. I’m a Dodger, in first place.”
As happy as Marmol seemed Thursday, the move has been far better for the Cubs so far.
Matt Guerrier, the struggling right-hander acquired by the Cubs for Marmol, has a 2.38 ERA in 13 appearances since joining the Cubs’ bullpen – earning raves from manager Dale Sveum.
“The additions of [Pedro] Strop [in another trade the same day] and Guerrier has finally solidified a bullpen that was a little bit in shambles until they got here,” Sveum said.
Meanwhile, Marmol – the $20 million pitcher who remains a symbol of the Cubs’ recent, and bygone, era – said he doesn’t know what to expect from fans if he gets a chance to pitch during the series.
“But I hope I strike out all three that I have to face,” he said, smiling.
And the Cubs’ approach should they face their command-challenged former teammate?
“It goes unsaid,” said Sveum.