Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

January 2013 Archives

Report: Marmol says extortion behind domestic assault claim

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Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol was accused in a Dominican Republic court on Wednesday of domestic assault involving a 24-year-old woman, and his attorneys, in turn, filed a countersuit claiming extortion, according to a Dominican news report.

Neither Marmol nor his agent, Paul Kinzer, could be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

But a source close to the Cubs' closer said an investigation into the alleged incident, involving Miledys Mejia Cepeda, already has been completed by local law enforcement officials in the Dominican, without finding sufficient cause to bring charges.

The Cubs, meanwhile, were trying to learn more about the allegations Thursday.

``We became aware of these media reports [Thursday] and are actively looking into the matter,'' team president Theo Epstein said in an e-mail exchange with the Sun-Times. ``We'll withhold further comment until we have more information.''

Marmol, 30, had 20 saves and a 3.42 ERA for a 101-loss Cubs team last year. He is in the final year of a three-year contract that pays him $9.8 million this season.

Cubs bring in Prior to counsel prospects

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Turns out the new ``Cubs Way'' involves a surprising part of the Cubs' recent past - specifically Kerry Wood and Mark Prior book-ending the Cubs' weeklong Rookie Development Program by offering advice to prospects.

``Who better to know and understand having all the hype, all the pressure, and being the young guy coming up and then performing in this environment?'' McLeod said. ``Those have been two of the most hyped Cubs prospects of the last 15 or 20 years.''

The talks by the star-crossed pitchers were part of the inaugural running of what amounts to an advanced seminar on big-league life, on and off the field, for a dozen hand-picked, near-ready prospects.

Wood, who remains in the organization after retiring as a pitcher last year, isn't as much of a surprise headliner as Prior - who accepted an invitation last week from McLeod, who knew him from a brief comeback attempt in San Diego.

``I don't know what the deal was when he left. I don' t know if there were bad feelings,'' McLeod said. ``All I know is I reached out to him ... Honestly, I thought he was going to say he didn't want to, but he was fired up about it and said, `I'd love to come talk to those guys and tell them about my experiences.' ''

Baseball operations president Theo Epstein, chairman Tom Ricketts, business ops president Crane Kenney, pitching coach Chris Bosio and current big-leaguers were also part of the week of events at Northwestern University.

Cubs, Garza avoid arbitration, agree to $10.25 million deal

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The Cubs avoided their biggest potential arbitration case Thursday by agreeing to a one-year, $10.25-million deal with starting pitcher Matt Garza.

Garza, who was nearly traded last July before an elbow injury sidelined him for the rest of the season, is eligible for free agency after this season. He made $9.5 million in 2012, when he went 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 18 starts.

Tweeted Garza Thursday night: ``Business side over! Hooray! Time to focus on what really matters ... 2013."

Garza has said repeatedly this off-season that he's fully recovered and on track to open the season on time at the front of the rotation, a sentiment team president Theo Epstein echoed this week:

``We expect [him] to be full-go in spring training and ready to start the year.''

Epstein said he anticipated no contentiousness with any of his remaining arbitration cases, which now include only starter Jeff Samardzija and reliever James Russell.

The Cubs have signed infielder Luis Valbuena to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration, and also have invited 16 non-rostered players to spring training next month.
Among the invitees is former White Sox utility player Brent Lillibridge and South Side native Brian Bogusevic, who played the last three seasons with the Houston Astros.
The 16 have signed minor league contracts.
Lillibridge, 28, played with the Sox from 2009 to last season when he split the year with Cleveland and Boston.
Outfielder Bogusevic, 28, hit .203 in 146 games with the Astros last season.
The other signees include catcher J.C. Boscan; right-handed pitcher Andrew Carpenter; right-handed pitcher Jaye Chapman; outfielder Johermyn Chavez; right-handed pitcher Dayan Diaz; infielder Alberto Gonzalez; right-handed pitcher Jensen Lewis; infielder Edwin Maysonet; outfielder Darnell McDonald; first baseman-outfielder Brad Nelson; right-handed pitcher Blake Parker; right-handed pitcher Zack Putnam; left-handed pitcher Hisanori Takahashi, and right-handed pitcher Cory Wade.

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