Inside Pitch: Marquis Excited

Jason Marquis

Jason Marquis has met with Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild this offseason.

Rothschild and Marquis talked about the right-handed pitcher's struggles during a 14-16 season in 2006 in which Marquis had a 6.02 ERA. They worked together, and Marquis felt good about what he learned.

There will be many more sessions between the two. Marquis inked a three-year, $21 million deal on Dec. 19 and is hoping to regain the form of 2003 when he was 15-7 with a 3.71 ERA.

"I knew I wasn't too far off," Marquis said of his 2006 campaign. "I was trying to bottle up seven innings of work into one batter sometimes. Numbers don't always reflect the kind of pitcher you are, but you don't want to be known as the guy with the high ERA."

Marquis said he was just a hair off in his mechanics, and Rothschild helped tweak a few things.

"It was nothing more than to get my mind right," Marquis said. "It feels back to a natural movement, where I don't have to think about it much. That was where I was fighting to get back to the last three, four months of the season.

"I feel very positive about it, and I'm looking forward to picking up the ball again and throwing."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who has spent close to $300 million on free agents this offseason, took some media and fan heat for spending $21 million on Marquis, but he said the money was justified.

"He was going to get $20 million-$21 million from three or four other different parties," Hendry said. "Certainly over a three-year look back, Jason's statistics and wins validate that type of a salary.

"He had a bad couple of months, and he'll be the first to admit it. But we feel he is capable of winning 14 or 15 a year, giving us some innings and lowering that ERA."

NOTES, QUOTES

  • CF Felix Pie was one of the few top prospects in the organization who was not brought up to the majors in 2006, but he will have a chance to win a starting job in spring training. Pie has speed and power but still needs to work on his strike-zone judgment.

  • LF Matt Murton could have some of his playing time reduced if the Cubs finalize a deal with left-handed-hitting Cliff Floyd. The Cubs feel that Murton has a good future ahead of him, but they are looking for more versatility in the lineup.

  • Randy Bush was promoted from special assistant to general manager Jim Hendry to assistant GM on Dec. 20. Hendry said the decision to create the position came in October and had nothing to do with his angioplasty in early December.

  • OF/1B Daryle Ward officially inked a one-year deal and will play as a backup in the corner outfield positions and will spell 1B Derrek Lee.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 42 -- Wins that new Cubs RHP Jason Marquis has racked up since the start of the 2004 season -- one more than Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt in that time frame.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have something to prove to myself and the city of Chicago." -- New Cubs RHP Jason Marquis, who was 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA last year.

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