Looking elsewhere? Marquis sounds off
Righty doesn't feel he should compete for job; Piniella reacts
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jason Marquis doesn't have a spot locked up in the Cubs rotation, and he said Saturday if there isn't room for him in Chicago, he'd like to go elsewhere. Lou Piniella says that's fine with him.
Marquis, who made his Cactus League debut Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is vying with Ryan Dempster, Jon Lieber and Sean Marshall for the two remaining openings in the rotation. So far, Piniella has said Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Rich Hill are set.
As far as Marquis is concerned, he isn't competing for a job.
"I don't look at it that way," said Marquis, who is in the second year of his three-year, $21 million contract. "Like I said all along, I'm out there battling the hitters and trying to get better day by day, and if they don't want me in the rotation here in Chicago, we'll go from there. We'll see what happens."
Does that mean he'll ask for a trade?
"We'll cross that path when it comes," Marquis said. "I have to go out there and take the ball when they give it to me and get guys out."
Piniella joked earlier this spring that Marquis needed a "split contract" because of how different he is in the first half versus the second. The right-hander did win six games both before and after the All-Star break last season for the Cubs, but his ERA went up, and he wasn't as consistent in the second half. He has won 54 games the last four seasons combined, and pitched at least 191 innings each year.
"I love Chicago, I definitely want to stay here," Marquis said. "This is the place I want to be. I signed here for a reason."
He also signed to be a starter.
"Exactly," Marquis said. "That's my ultimate goal, that's how I think I help the team the most. Obviously, we'll see what happens when it's time for them to make their decision.
"As much as I want to be here in Chicago, and I love it, I love the fans and the stadium, I also have a family to worry about, too," he said. "I could take my services elsewhere if that's the case, and I could help another team in that capacity as a starter. My value doesn't lie in the bullpen in my mind."
Told about Marquis' comments after the game, which the Cubs lost, 6-2, Piniella was surprised.
"If that's the case, he can go somewhere else," Piniella said. "Win a spot in the rotation, you don't have to worry about it.
"I've got seven starters for five spots," he said. "It's a little bit too early to start talking about what he wants to do, or not do. I'm giving him a chance to compete and win a spot in the rotation. A little bit too early."
Piniella then was asked about Kerry Wood's performance, and talked about Bob Howry. He switched back to the topic of Marquis on his own.
"You know, that galls me about Marquis, it really does," Piniella said. "I'm not pleased with that comment at all. We've had a good camp over here, everybody's getting an opportunity to go out and win a spot in the rotation. Nobody's going to stand in your way. That's the easy way out."
The right-hander has talked with Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild this offseason about what he needs to work on.
"Obviously, I take the criticism from the people who have been through it and know what I need to work on," Marquis said.
This offseason, Marquis found someone to help him with the mental part of the game. He and Rothschild feel that might help correct his second-half issues.
One other area that needs improvement is holding runners on. He knows that. Marquis got some help Saturday when catcher Geovany Soto threw out Chone Figgins, who was trying to steal second after a leadoff single. In his outing, Marquis gave up two runs on three hits and one walk over two innings.
"That was one of the main issues, holding runners on," Marquis said. "But other than that, we didn't go further than that when I talked with Lou."
Piniella certainly hasn't clarified Marquis' status.
"I didn't ask," Marquis said. "I went in there to find out what things I need to get better."
Asked after Saturday's game if he had talked to the pitcher, Piniella said no.
"I haven't said anything at all," Piniella said. "We've got seven guys here competing for a spot in the rotation, and everyone is going to get an equal chance. After the first start of Spring Training, saying if I'm not going to make the rotation, I'd like to go somewhere else, well, he can go somewhere else right now if he wants. How's that?"
Marquis came into the big leagues as a reliever, and hasn't pitched in relief since 2003. That's not his first choice.
"We'll see what happens," Marquis said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.