CHICAGO -- It seems the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano can’t go very long without some sort of controversy following him.
Zambrano, who is headed to the disabled list with lower back issues, threw the first pitch at a Chicago Bandits softball game after leaving Thursday’s game in the second inning.
Manager Mike Quade had no issue with Zambrano’s decision to attend the game and throw the ceremonial pitch.
“Is he bed-ridden? I don’t know; did he pitch three innings?” Quade asked. “I certainly didn’t expect him to go home, sleep for two weeks, and hope it got better. It seems like much ado about nothing to me.”
General manager Jim Hendry echoed his manager’s sentiments, saying the whole situation has been blown out of proportion.
“We certainly have all had turns of being disgruntled with Carlos at times; he would be the first to admit that some of it, rightfully so,” Hendry said. “I find it almost sad that this would be a big story in a negative way. I would have been disappointed if he didn’t show up.”
Hendry is right in that Zambrano has been involved in his share of controversy. This latest incident just goes to show how everything the oft-combustible pitcher does is magnified. Quade pointed out that the Cubs have had 85-year-olds throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field.
Knowing that, one would assume that Zambrano was at little to no risk of injuring himself further by tossing a baseball 40 feet. Unless Zambrano wound up and threw a 90 mph fastball, the latest drama involving Big Z appears to be a blown out of proportion.
Most can agree that it’s unacceptable when Zambrano calls out a teammate to the media or fights with one in the dugout. This isn’t a situation where Zambrano is playing soccer, participating in a softball game while injured or even getting cramped up because he failed to hydrate, all things that have happened in the past.
Those are all offenses that Zambrano has rightfully been admonished for, in the media and by the Cubs.
However, it’s because of these prior incidents that Zambrano is now being criticized for a harmless act that most likely would have been overlooked had it been any other player.
The focus should be on how the Cubs deal with yet another injury and who fills Zambrano’s spot in the rotation -- for the time being the answer to the latter issue looks to be veteran Ramon Ortiz.
Unfortunately, all too often in his career, the story has been about Zambrano’s antics off the field. This shouldn’t be one of those instances.