Morning rain showers dampened the mood a bit Monday as Cubs pitchers and catchers reported to Fitch Park for the opening day of spring training.
But closer Carlos Marmol arrived with a big grin on his face, ready to move on from a nightmarish offseason and keep his reputation intact in the face of abuse allegations levied by a 24-year-old woman in his native country.
Addressing the media for the first time since reports surfaced two weeks ago in the Dominican Republic, Marmol said he was a victim of an extortion attempt.
"I didn't do anything," Marmol said. "The stuff that she says is not true and I proved it. … It is about the money. The first thing, when they went to the police, they asked about money right away."
Marmol said he knew the woman, Miledys Mejia Cepeda, because she grew up in his hometown. But he said he had never spoken to her before that Oct. 28 night, when he gave her a ride home from a party. Marmol said he was surprised when he learned of the charges from a radio report.
"They tried to make me scared," he said. "They were going to (ruin) my reputation in baseball. The easy way is to (make a claim) and then I'd give them money. But I'm not going to give them money because I didn't do anything."
The civil case was sent to a higher court Friday. Marmol said he doesn't know if he will have to go back to the Dominican for the next hearing.
"It's frustrating," he said, adding: "I'm very (ticked) off."
Marmol's attorney filed a countersuit to try to prove the accusation was a blackmail attempt. President Theo Epstein said the Cubs support Marmol and believe he's innocent. Marmol said the Cubs "know what's going on."
Marmol said it's not unusual for occurrences like this to happen in the Dominican because lawyers know it's an easy way to blackmail well-paid players for money.
Marmol says he's innocent victim of extortion attempt
Chicago Tribune | Feb 12