2/18 Zambrano: "I feel like a rookie again"
Carlos Zambrano has a new haircut and a new mental approach to the game but has dropped 15 pounds and one of his pitches. The Cubs right-hander said Thursday he’s eliminating the cutter, saying it was a pitch he couldn’t control as well as his others.
“No more cutter,” Zambrano said. “Just sinker — sinker and split finger. [The cutter] was a pitch I sometimes couldn’t control. It’s good to have that pitch but it wasn’t the pitch that made me successful. The sinker was the one that made me good back in my career.”
Wait a minute — Zambrano isn’t that old. The 28-year-old pitcher says his repertoire will now include a sinker, slider, split and “high fastball.” He got a head start on the 2010 season by getting to Arizona around Feb. 1. On Thursday, he threw with the rest off the mound with the rest of the pitchers.
“I think I can be better,” said Zambrano, who is coming off a sour injury-filled season in which he went 9-7 in 28 starts. “Obviously, to be better, one of the ways is to work hard, be in shape, be in better shape, and do everything exactly right, not only physically but mentally.”
This is coming from a guy who bashed a Gatorade dispenser in the dugout with a bat, who never hides his emotions. What mental changes can Cubs fans expect?
“You will see,” Zambrano said with a smile. “I think I’ve passed that age or that stage when everything was getting me mad. That’s why you will see a different Carlos Zambrano, smiling and laughing with everybody, even with the umpires.”
The right-hander has lost 15 pounds and wants to drop another five before Opening Day to reach 255. He took his loss to another level by trimming his hair in the same cropped style it was during his rookie season in 2002.
“I feel like a new guy, I feel like a rookie again,” Zambrano said. “That’s why I got this haircut. Somebody said, ‘You look like when you were a rookie.’ When I first came up to pitch against Milwaukee [Aug. 20, 2001], I had the same haircut.”
– Carrie Muskat