Zambrano apologizes for remarks
Ace regrets sounding off on fans, plans to turn things around
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano apologized Tuesday to the fans, who he criticized for booing him as he came off the field after a poor outing.
"First of all, I want to apologize to the Cub fans," Zambrano said. "There were moments yesterday when I was angry. Human beings, when they're angry, they say a lot of things they shouldn't say. I am human. I made a mistake.
"The good thing about myself is when I make a mistake, I know I have to apologize and I know I have to do the correct thing. It's coming from my heart. I love these fans, I love Cub fans -- they're the greatest fans in baseball. They have the right to boo people, to do whatever they have to do.
"They've been waiting for 98 years [for a world championship]. Sometimes we don't do a good job, and they get frustrated."
Zambrano's comments from Monday's game were the No. 1 story in the Chicago papers.
"I apologize to all those who read the paper today and were offended by what I said," he said. "I'm really sorry about what I did yesterday and what I said. I think the next start, I will do the best to be Carlos Zambrano, and I started today with my hair."
The blonde highlights are gone. Zambrano sported a much shorter haircut on Tuesday.
Maybe the new look will help. On Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Zambrano gave up eight runs on seven hits and five walks over 4 1/3 innings, ran through a stop sign and was thrown out at home on an ill-advised play, and gestured toward the fans as he walked off the field.
After the game, he said he didn't "accept the fans were booing me," and said, "I think these are great fans of baseball, but they showed me today they just care about them. That's not fair."
Cubs team president John McDonough and general manager Jim Hendry met with Zambrano on Tuesday, but the pitcher said he wanted to apologize without being prompted.
"I knew I made a mistake," Zambrano said. "I'm a grown man. I know when I make a mistake. I know when I do things wrong. Nobody has to tell me what to do. [This apology] comes from here [he pointed to his head] and here [he pointed to his heart]."
The Cubs need Zambrano to get back on track if they are to win the National League Central Division. He has not won since July 29, and is 0-5 with an 8.29 ERA since, giving up 31 earned runs over 33 2/3 innings. Fifteen of those runs have come with two outs in the inning. Zambrano signed a five-year, $91.5 million contract with the Cubs on Aug. 18.
|"The good thing about myself is when I make a mistake, I know I have to apologize and I know I have to do the correct thing. It's coming from my heart. I love these fans, I love Cub fans -- they're the greatest fans in baseball."|
|-- Carlos Zambrano|
Zambrano, whose next start will be on the road at Pittsburgh, will not be fined for his comments, Hendry said.
"I'm sure he went to bed last night feeling bad, and I'm sure he woke up this morning feeling worse," Hendry said.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he wanted to give Zambrano a day and will talk to him, along with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, about a new game plan for the final month.
"I'm proud of the fact he did apologize," Piniella said. "Everybody's entitled to make a mistake. We'll turn the page. Our job is to get this guy back to where he was in June and July."
This isn't the first time Zambrano has had to apologize. He got into a scuffle in the dugout that escalated into the clubhouse with teammate Michael Barrett on June 1, and he apologized for that incident, saying he was embarrassed. He won Pitcher of the Month honors in July, going 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA, but went 0-for-August.
"He's got good stuff," Piniella said. "I thought he was throwing the ball well yesterday, and it sort of came unglued after that run through the streets of Pamplona. I think it tired him out."
That run was in the third inning, when Zambrano singled and tried to score on Alfonso Soriano's double with none out. He ran through third-base coach Mike Quade's stop sign and was easily thrown out at home.
It was one of many mistakes in the day for Zambrano.
"Everybody can have bad outings -- even the greatest pitcher of all time," Zambrano said. "The good thing about it is any time I finish the season, I say, 'This was a good season, an OK season.' For me, this year is an OK season, but the good thing about this is we're about to go to the playoffs, we're in a pennant race, and that's the most important thing. That's [why] the Cubs pay us, is for us to go to the playoffs.
"I don't care what my record is -- I don't care if I go 18-12, 17-13, I don't care," he said. "I just care that this team goes to the playoffs, because as soon as we go to the playoffs, everything is new."
It's pretty simple as to what Zambrano needs to do.
"I have to throw more strikes," he said. "Being ahead in the count is the key for any pitcher. That's what I have to do. What I'm doing wrong now is I'm doing that, I'm walking too many people."
Hendry and the Cubs recognize that one of Zambrano's best traits is his emotions. He just needs to re-direct that energy into his pitching.
"He has such a strong desire to please everyone," Hendry said. "He wants to win, he wants to throw shutouts, he wants to be perfect, he wants to hit home runs, he wants to steal bases, and, unfortunately, he wants to go from first to home on doubles.
"There's a fine line -- you don't want to tone him down too much, but you want him to channel things the right way," Hendry said. "It's OK to give up a run or two and win 6-4. I think sometimes he wants perfection and greatness every time, and sometimes that can fight against you."
So, Zambrano doesn't need a few sessions with a sports psychologist?
"I think for the rest of the year, I'll send him to Dr. Piniella and Dr. Rothschild, and maybe even a visit from Dr. Hendry a little bit," Hendry said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.