2/16 Big Z ready to move on
Carlos Zambrano admits it’s time for a change and says he’s working toward having a good season with the Marlins. Zambrano played in the Marlins Golf Classic on Thursday, his first appearance since he was acquired by trade in January. After spending most of the winter wondering where he would play baseball in 2012, Zambrano says he was happy to learn he was acquired by the Marlins.
“I was very happy when I found out about it,” Zambrano told reporters at the golf event. “I think it was time for a change and obviously this trade benefitted me.”
While Zambrano says he believes he could have returned to Chicago, he admits it was probably a good time for him to move on.
“I don’t think it would have been difficult,” Zambrano said about staying with the Cubs. “I’ve changed my mentality and God has helped me change a lot of things about how I am. It all depended on the work I was going to put in and the mentality I would bring back to them.”
He threw a no-hitter and several tantrums with the Cubs, but Zambrano says he has no ill feelings toward the team.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for the people of Chicago,” he said. “From the fans to the front office, I want to thank them for treating my like a professional for the past 11 years. All I have for Chicago is gratitude and respect.”
Zambrano is also grateful for what his new manager did for him. Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen lobbied to get Big Z.
“I’m very thankful that Ozzie pushed to bring me here to the Marlins,” Zambrano said. “He’s a manager that is dynamic. I am a big supporter of his mentality as a manager and I am very happy to have the opportunity to play for him on this team.”
Guillen and Zambrano have known each other for many years. The two are both standout Venezuelan baseball players. They also had success in Chicago over the years. Even though Zambrano was with the Cubs and Guillen was on the South Side with the White Sox, their close proximity helped strengthen their relationship.
“We were both in Chicago and he was always giving me good advice,” Zambrano said. “Every time we would see each other, he always had something good to say to me. He’s a mentor to me. He’s someone that when you play hard for him and do things the right way, he’s someone who will be behind you. He’s someone who knows a lot about baseball and those are people who should be respected. You need to listen to people like that.”
Guillen has already predicted Zambrano will have a good year.
“He will definitely bounce back,” Guillen said. “It’s hard to predict how many wins and losses he’s going to have but I think he’s definitely going to bounce back and show people how good he is.”
Zambrano believes he is on his way to regaining the form that saw him have so much success with the Cubs over most of his 11 seasons.
“I feel real good and strong. My arm feels great and I am throwing well,” Zambrano said. “I hit 97 miles per hour this winter and that’s something that I hadn’t done in a while. I think that is a result of all the hard work that I have put in. I am very happy with the results of the work I have put in and will continue to do it to get ready for this year.”
Zambrano also wants to show he has matured as a person.
“The only thing that I have to prove is that I can keep myself under control,” Zambrano said. “Anything else will take care of itself.”
Said Guillen: “To me, it’s a privilege to manage him. I’ve always wanted to manage him because I saw him pitch a lot in Chicago and I know what he can do. Hopefully he stays healthy because if he does then he is going to be good for us.”
— Carrie Muskat