MILWAUKEE — For one Cub, it was the end of the line.
For another, a much-needed rest stop.
The Cubs said goodbye to embattled relief pitcher Carlos Marmol on Tuesday, designating him for assignment. It’s unlikely the Cubs will find a team to take Marmol in a trade, so they’ll probably end up releasing him after the 10-day period to do so is up.
On the same day that was happening, manager Dale Sveum decided he had to give slumping shortstop Starlin Castro a rest for one game.
Despite his .228 batting average and recent struggles in the field, the 23-year-old Castro has a future with the Cubs. The 30-year-old Marmol does not, and the Cubs decided it was time to cut ties in the final season of Marmol’s three-year, $20 million contract.
Marmol was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA and 2 saves in 5 chances. The last straw really came June 16, when Marmol was reinstated into the closer’s role for one day and he gave up 3 hits and 4 runs in one-third of an inning to fritter away what looked to be a sure victory at New York.
The Cubs have been trying to trade Marmol for a year.
“Since we’ve been here, we kind of realized, I guess, in August of last year, that we really would never be able to trade him or acquire any value for him,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “He had a really good second half last year on paper.
“We never really had any offers that were anything other than just someone else’s undesirable contract for ours. There was a lot of talk about trade value and things like that, but that was something we had given up on long ago.”
Marmol lost his closer’s job in early April and had become essentially an expensive middle reliever and one who got booed almost every time he came in to pitch at Wrigley Field.
Marmol’s 117 saves rank third all time in team history, and Hoyer said he hoped Cubs fans would remember Marmol’s dominant days.
“I think the decision really came down to the fact that it had become a distraction, I think, for him,” Hoyer said. “It became hard for him to pitch as well as he could because every time he threw 2 balls to the first hitter, he was getting booed.
“I don’t think that’s easy for anybody. I think it became difficult for his teammates because there was a little bit of a sideshow mentality to it.”
Marmol’s agent, Paul Kinzer, agreed with the Cubs’ decision and also noted that Marmol always was available to the media after every game, whether the result was good or bad.
“I think it’s good for all concerned,” Kinzer said. “It gives Carlos the chance for a fresh start. And the Cubs can turn the page. He never ducked anything. It’s a shame the fans didn’t get to see that side of him more.”
Manager Dale Sveum said Marmol handled the situation professionally when he talked to him early Tuesday.
As for Castro, a day off has been a long time in coming. Entering Tuesday, Castro had 13 hits in his previous 98 at-bats.
Sveum had resisted the idea of resting Castro, who entered Tuesday having played in 269 consecutive games.
“Obviously, you know I’ve been thinking about it,” Sveum said. “I think sometimes you end up looking in somebody’s eyes to see what it is. I don’t really like giving core players a day off at home.
“Obviously, Sori (Alfonso Soriano) gets some because of his age and get him refreshed a little bit. But when people pay a lot of money to come see their favorite player, you don’t want to do that at home. I think it’s a good day to let (Castro) kick back after an off-day and enjoy a major-league game.”
ŸFollow Bruce Miles’ Cubs reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112, and check out his Chicago’s Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.