7/26 Big Z: "I apologize"
The Cubs had hoped Carlos Zambrano would talk to his teammates before the media but the pitcher made comments Monday to ESPN, saying his tantrum June 25 was sparked by a “moment of frustration.” Zambrano said he was trying to fire up the Cubs after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Three of the White Sox’s runs that inning came on Carlos Quentin’s three-run homer off an 0-2 pitch from Zambrano.
When the pitcher came off the field, he yelled and screamed in the dugout. Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee told Zambrano to shut up, the pitcher said, and Zambrano “got more excited.”
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” Zambrano told ESPN. “The last person I would be mad at is D-Lee. He’s a Gold Glover. I was just mad at myself.”
Zambrano said he sent a text message to Lee two days after the incident and they talked.
The pitcher was suspended for three days without pay after the incident and then placed on the restricted list to undergo treatment for anger issues.
“I saw a little bit of it,” Piniella said Monday of Zambrano’s comments. “I’m sure he’s contrite and I’m sure he’s looking forward to coming back but the important thing remains that he talk to his teammates.”
Zambrano has pitched twice for Triple-A Iowa and was expected to rejoin the Cubs Friday in Denver when they open a weekend series against the Rockies. That’s when Zambrano needs to talk to the team, Piniella said.
“I said that time heals wounds and that’s exactly what has happened but I’m sure his teammates want to hear what he has to say and we’ll go from there,” Piniella said. “With time, you tend to forgive and forget.”
Zambrano said he does not want to leave the Cubs, saying he “came on a mission, and I want that ring.”
He also said the therapy sessions have helped.
“A lot of people have told me I need to change if I want to be successful,” Zambrano said. “Thank God the Cubs have sent me to the doctor for anger management. I’ve had three sessions already … doing exercises. I have to write down every time I get mad.”
Zambrano has yet to pitch in back to back games but Piniella said he didn’t think that was necessary.
“He’s probably chomping at the bit to get back into the fray,” Piniella said, “and hopefully he’ll come back and help us win some baseball games.”
“I’m really looking forward to being back with the team,” Zambrano said. “I’m not liking Triple-A too much.”
— Carrie Muskat