Marmol excited for MLB contract as DR eliminated
Mexico advances to Caribbean Series final; reliever signs with Marlins
ISLA DE MARGARITA, Venezuela -- Carlos Marmol celebrated a major victory before a pitch was even thrown Thursday night.
Then his team lost the game.
The veteran right-handed pitcher agreed to a one-year Major League deal with the Marlins for $1.25 million before the start of the Caribbean Series semifinal game between Mexico's Naranjeros de Hermosillo and Marmol's Tigres de Licey from the Dominican Republic.
Hours later, Mexico won the game, 3-2, to advance to the tournament final Saturday, when it will face the winner of Friday's game between Venezuela's Navigantes del Magallanes and Puerto Rico's Indios de Mayaguez.
"I'm very proud and I'm happy that I'm going to get an opportunity with Miami," Marmol said. "We'll see what happens, but I'm imagining I'm going to be pitching in the final two innings."
Steve Cishek, who converted 34 of 36 save chances last year, is the team's closer, but Marmol provides depth at the position and is also an option as an eighth-inning reliever. Right-handed relievers A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps and left-hander Mike Dunn are also expected to make the team.
"It feels good to be going to a young team with a lot of potential. I'm really happy with the Major League deal part," Marmol said. "I have spent seven or eight years in the big leagues and I wasn't looking to pitch in the Minor Leagues. I had options but felt like this team would give me an opportunity to pitch where I need to pitch, so I'm going to take advantage of it."
Marmol is one of the lucky ones. Dominican Republic teammates Julio Lugo, Claudio Vargas and Emilio Bonifacio, who was recently designated for assignment, are uncertain about their futures. Mexico pitcher Oliver Perez, who spent last year with the Mariners, and Venezuela's Carlos Zambrano are also looking for jobs. Puerto Rico's Joel Pineiro is attempting a comeback and is hoping a team takes a chance on him.
Players point to Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who signed with the Mets after playing in the Caribbean Series last year, as an example of how the tournament can lead to big league opportunities.
"I'm still waiting to see if I'm going to get traded, and I think we'll find out my status more at the end of the Caribbean Series," Bonifacio said. "I have to talk to my agent about it. I just want to play baseball. I have faith in God that everything is going to turn out fine."
Thursday's game proved to be a big league showdown between Mexico's Alfredo Aceves, who signed with the Orioles, and Atlanta reliever Yunesky Maya on the mound for the Dominican Republic.
The starters each gave up one run in the first inning and exchanged zeros for the next five innings.
Maya was eventually removed from the game in the bottom of the sixth after catching a line drive back to the mound off the bat of Mexico's Chris Roberson with his bare hand. He was replaced by Armando Rodriguez with the score tied at 1.
In the end, Maya was charged with one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three batters.
Aceves ran into trouble in the top of the seventh, giving up a single to Juan Perez to lead off the inning and hitting the next batter, Baltimore's Francisco Peguero. Perez would go on to score on a sacrifice fly by Detroit's Ronny Paulino to break the tie and give the Dominican Republic a 2-1 lead.
The lead would not last. Mexico tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the eighth and won the game in the ninth on a bloop single up the middle by Sebastian Valle that scored Yunesky Sanchez for the game-winning run.
Aceves was charged with two runs on three hits in seven innings.
As for Marmol, he is scheduled to fly to Miami to take a physical and complete the deal Friday. The pitcher said his time at the Caribbean Series was going to be over, regardless of Thursday's outcome.
Marlins pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Jupiter, Fla., for Spring Training on Feb. 16. The team's first full workout is scheduled for Feb. 20.
"Marmol has been excellent, one of the top guys here," Dominican Republic manager Jose Offerman said. "He's been a closer for a while now. He just has to get his confidence back to the way he has now; he'll be fine."
Marmol recorded a save and did not give up a run in two appearances during the Caribbean Series. He was charged with three hits and two runs with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings for Licey in Dominican Winter League play.
For his career, Marmol has 117 saves and a 3.46 ERA in 563 2/3 innings since his big league debut with the Cubs in 2006. He combined to go 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA for the Cubs and Dodgers last season.
"Even when you have a contract, pitching in the Caribbean can help you in all situations," Marmol said. "It's sad that I have to leave Venezuela, but business is business. I feel great about my contract. The good thing is that I'm healthy."