6/25/2013 8:41 P.M. ET
Citing distraction, decline, Cubs designate Marmol
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Marmol, the embattled closer who ranks third in Cubs history with 117 saves, was designated for assignment Tuesday after the team decided it had enough.
The Cubs recalled outfielder Brian Bogusevic from Triple-A Iowa to take his spot on the roster.
General manager Jed Hoyer said they have tried to deal Marmol since last August, but there are no takers. The right-hander posted a 1.52 ERA after the All-Star break in 2012 and opened this year as the closer, but lost the job after struggling in the first week. He blew a three-run lead in the ninth on June 16 against the Mets that resulted in a 4-3 loss, made one more appearance Thursday against the Cardinals, in which he was efficient, throwing 11 pitches (nine strikes), and that was it.
"He had a really good second half last year, and no one bid at the August deadline, and we didn't have any offers other than someone else's undesirable contract for ours," Hoyer said. "There was a lot of talk about trade value and things like that, but that's something we'd given up on long ago.
"He did provide value for us pitching in the middle of the game. He had struggles that frustrated people at the end of the game. We held out on this move for a long time in part because with his salary, he was providing solid innings in the sixth and seventh. The decision really came down to it had become a distraction. It became hard to pitch as well as he could because every time he threw two balls, he'd get booed, and 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. We felt it was the right time. It had become a distraction and he wasn't able to pitch late in the game for us. That was really the decision."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Marmol handled the news Tuesday morning professionally and thanked the Cubs.
"Obviously, he hasn't had the slider he had when he first was closing, so it's more difficult to close out games, but there's something there that can still help people and maybe a change of scenery can help," Sveum said.
Kevin Gregg, who is 11-for-11 in save situations since taking over the job, said he hoped Marmol could find another team.
"He was kind of beating his head against the wall here," Gregg said. "The chance to get that fresh start, I think, will be good for him.
"He's a great guy, a stand-up guy. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He's great with fans. You always see him signing autographs, you always see him interacting with everybody. It's part of the game. It's unfortunate. I think he'll be able to turn the corner and get his feet underneath him."
Marmol replaced Gregg as the Cubs' closer in 2009, and now they've switched places.
"I could sympathize with him," Gregg said. "It's a tough position to be in. When I was in Baltimore last year, it was the same thing for me. Getting my feet underneath me and a fresh start was all I needed."
Gregg, who began this season with the Dodgers, then was released because they didn't have a roster opening, knows only too well the roller-coaster ride closers go on.
"We do our job and nobody says anything; we don't do our job, and everyone puts you under a microscope," he said.
This season, Marmol was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA in 31 games, and 2-for-5 in save opportunities. Win or lose, save or not, he was always present in the clubhouse to answer questions post-game.
"The guy gave four really, really good seasons to the Cubs," Hoyer said. "It kind of bums me out when I read some of the comments people make about his career in Chicago, because they forget how dominant he was for four years. Frankly, I feel a lot of his ineffectiveness now is related to the fact that he was ridden so hard when he was at his best.
"He gave a lot to the Cubs and had a really good Cubs career."
The Cubs now have 10 days to either place Marmol on waivers, release him or trade him. Gregg is hoping Marmol finds a new team.
"I'm excited for him," Gregg said. "I think it's what he needed. He wanted to do it here. I think this is going to be good for him. As a friend, I think this is his chance to step back and look at himself in the mirror and say, 'I can still do this,' and that little breath of fresh air will help him out."
Cubs release Stewart upon return from suspension
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs officially parted ways with Ian Stewart on Tuesday, granting the third baseman his unconditional release.
Stewart was playing for Triple-A Iowa and issued a 10-game suspension for violating the loyalty clause in his contract when he made disparaging comments about the Cubs and manager Dale Sveum on Twitter. His suspension, which ended last Saturday, was upheld.
"The release is probably best for all parties involved," said Larry Reynolds, Stewart's representative. "After a lengthy rehab, Ian was starting to get back to playing the way we all had hoped. We will move on and I expect that Ian, with hard work, will find himself back in the big leagues at some point in the near future."
Stewart was slowed this spring by a strained left quad and was outrighted to Iowa after rehab assignment. He hit.168 (19-for-113) with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 40 games before he June 11 suspension.
Stewart, who later posted an apology on his Twitter account, has hit .232 with 59 homers and 204 RBIs over parts of six big league seasons. Chicago signed him to a one-year, $2 million deal.
"The decision was for the two sides to part ways," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "It allows Ian to potentially continue his career somewhere else, and for us, I think it was the right time to go in a different direction."
Hoyer said they saw Stewart as left-handed hitter with power who could play defense and help fill the void at third when they signed him. A wrist injury limited Stewart to 55 games a year ago.
"It didn't work out, and it may work out for him somewhere else in the big leagues," Hoyer said.
Struggling Castro sits for first time since 2011
MILWAUKEE -- In Game No. 75, Starlin Castro finally rested.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided it was time to give the shortstop a breather, not starting Castro in Tuesday's game against the Brewers. It was Castro's first day off this year, and first day off since Aug. 22, 2011. Castro entered the night hitting .228 for the season and .131 in June.
"I think sometimes you end up looking in somebody's eyes to see when [the time is right]," said Sveum, who has been considering the move for a few weeks. "I don't like to give any core players a day off at home. When people pay a lot of money to see their favorite player, you don't want to do that at home."
The Cubs had Monday off, and Tuesday was the start of a three-city, nine-game swing.
Sveum said he felt Castro needed a mental break.
"I told him to think about tomorrow as a whole [new] season and not try to hit .300 tomorrow," Sveum said. "It's not going to happen. You can't get four hits every at-bat and think you're going to get your average back up there. There's plenty of time left in the season to hit .330 and you can finish at .290 or .300.
"I told him, 'You're not the first really, really good hitter to be in these kind of slumps. It's part of everyone's career.'"
Castro had the longest active consecutive games played streak in the National League at 269, second in the Majors to Detroit's Prince Fielder, who has played in 418 straight.
"He's such a talented player who's struggling, and I think he's never struggled like this before," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "He's probably somewhat physically tired, and definitely frustrated with his performanceb and hopefully this will help him clear his head."
Hitting well in Triple-A, Bogusevic gets call to Cubs
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs added an extra outfielder Tuesday, selecting the contract of outfielder Brian Bogusevic from Triple-A Iowa.
Bogusevic, 29, takes Carlos Marmol's spot on the 40-man roster after the Cubs designated their former closer for assignment.
The outfielder hit .319 with 14 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 78 games with Iowa. A left-handed hitter, he stole 16 bases and posted a .929 OPS.
The Cubs expect to face six right-handed starters when they play the Mariners and Athletics beginning Friday, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he'll use Bogusevic either as the designated hitter or in left field.
"He'd been playing so well," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We felt it was the right thing to do for him. He'd been so good for us, run the bases well, hitting well. It was time to bring him up."
Bogusevic batted .410 in 20 games in Spring Training, but didn't make the 25-man roster. He made some adjustments in the offseason and credited his success to that. He spent all or part of three big league seasons with the Astros, hitting .203 in 146 games a year ago.
"Everything's always still a work in progress," he said.
There's also a little extra motivation for Bogusevic, who was raised in Oak Lawn, Ill.
"It's exciting," he said. "It's a little extra benefit. I'm just excited to be here and be with the team."
• Sveum watched the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup on Monday night with thousands of other hockey fans, celebrating at an establishment on Southport Avenue in Chicago. The Blackhawks' come-from-behind win, and the celebration on the streets around Wrigley Field, were the talk of the clubhouse Tuesday.
"Obviously, [there was the celebration on] Clark Street and the guys understand that'll be close to 10 times that if we ever won," Sveum said. "That whole area and every street would be like that if we ever won."
• Alberto Cabrera gave up a run on three hits over eight innings in Double-A Tennessee's 5-1 win against Jackson on Monday. Cabrera struck out 13 batters. Justin Bour hit two home runs and Elliot Soto added a solo homer.
• Former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood discovered a body floating in Belmont Harbor while paddleboarding around 11:10 a.m. Monday, and in the water. According to the Chicago Tribune, Wood called the police immediately. The victim had an identification tag on his left wrist indicating he was a man reported missing by a North Side nursing home after being released by a local hospital June 19.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.