Marquis will get chance to start again with Cards
By Rick Hummel
The Houston Astros have added a fifth to an already strong rotation by luring Roger Clemens out of retirement. The Chicago Cubs are trying to add a fifth to their pitching punch by luring Greg Maddux back where he began his career.
In St. Louis, the Cardinals have acquired a fifth for their rotation, albeit one who has won 585 games fewer than the combined totals of Clemens (310) and Maddux (289). Jason Marquis, in fact, won no games for the Atlanta Braves in 21 appearances last season although he spent much of the season in the minors.
But, coming from one who should know - his prejudice as a teammate notwithstanding - new Cardinals reliever Ray King said, "My dark horse is going to be Jason Marquis. He throws 95 to 97 miles an hour. In Atlanta, he really didn't get a chance to pitch.
"Everybody's got a big question mark over his head. But with the demeanor of (manager) Tony (La Russa) and the pitching techniques of (pitching coach) Dave Duncan, this kid is going to flourish. If they put him in the rotation and let him pitch, he could be that guy nobody expects to win that 15, 16 games."
Marquis, who came with King from Atlanta in an off-season deal that sent outfielders J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero to the Braves, said Sunday at the Cardinals' Winter Warm-up, "I hope I have the ability to win 15 or 20 games. I'm just glad the Cardinals are giving me a chance to do that.
"I can't worry about what the Astros staff is doing or what the Cubs staff is doing. I think we have a good enough team to beat them whether it's Clemens out there on the mound or . . . (Andy) Pettitte, (Kerry) Wood or (Mark) Prior."
To date, Marquis, a power pitcher despite being just over 6 feet tall, has won 14 games and lost 15 in the majors. He was 8-9 in 2002, the only season he got a chance to stay in the rotation for the Braves, but Marquis, coming off some minor shoulder problems, became the odd man out last year when Maddux returned to the Braves through arbitration, veteran Shane Reynolds was signed and lefthander Horacio Ramirez emerged. "When they signed Shane, that's when I knew the Braves had no plans for me," Marquis said.
Marquis, who unhappily had gone to the bullpen, perhaps more happily went to Richmond, where he got a chance to start again and have success.
"I've never been a huge bullpen guy," Marquis said. "I've always had that starter mind-set. When you're pitching in situations when you're down 11-2, it's sort of tough to get your mind-frame right.
"You're never happy to get sent down but maybe it was a blessing in disguise. I figured out a lot of things."
Marquis, 25, credited Class AAA pitching coach Guy Hansen for helping revive his confidence and renewing faith in Marquis' ability to pitch inside with his mid-90s fastball.
"I don't leave anything out there on the field," said the Staten Island native who said he patterned himself after Braves power pitcher John Smoltz.
While King has been with several teams, Marquis' move is his first. "You've got to be flattered when you get traded," Marquis said. "That means an organization wanted you. You can't look at it as a team didn't want you."
Marquis may not like to relieve but King wants to - every game.
"I come to the park every day expecting to pitch," said King, 30, who appeared in 80 games with a 3.54 earned run average for the Braves last year. "Win, lose or draw, I'm disappointed when I don't pitch. I want to be in that ball game from the sixth to the ninth inning."
King will join Steve Kline in a 1-2 lefthanded bullpen tandem and hopes to feed off the Busch Stadium crowds the way Kline tries to.
"The fan support here is unbelievable," King said. "When you run through that gate, if that doesn't get you pumped up, nothing can. I was in Monterrey for the players' association meetings and I ran into (former Cardinal) Bobby Bonilla. He said, 'If you ever want to go to a city where you're going to be loved, then St. Louis is the place.'"
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