Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster isn't sure whether he would welcome Carlos Zambrano back to the clubhouse, but Dempster does believe Zambrano needs to resolve some issues before the discussion about a return even begins.
The Cubs have put Zambrano on the disqualification list, which means he's suspended without pay for 30 days and can't participate in team activities. The punishment was for leaving Atlanta's Turner Field on Friday before the game was over and telling people he was retiring. Zambrano's agent told Cubs general manager Jim Hendry a few hours later that he wasn't retiring, and the players' union filed a grievance on Zambrano's behalf Monday.
Dempster appeared on ESPN 1000's "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on Wednesday and was asked if he would welcome Zambrano back to the clubhouse.
"I don't know, I really don't know," he said. "To be honest with you, there are things that obviously he needs to figure out and figure out what he's doing. And he's going through tough times. To feel that way about everything and feel like you need to go home and retire, obviously there are things he needs to take care of before you even start talking about that.
"We're just trying to go out and win ballgames and move forward and move past it. Because we have a bunch of guys who want to be here and want to compete and want to go out there and try to finish the season as strong as possible. Just because the beginning of the season hasn't been the greatest, there's no reason not to just keep fighting. Sometimes that's the fun of it is going out there and getting your butt whupped and figuring out a way to punch back until you end up on top."
Dempster had not spoken to Zambrano as of Friday morning, and he doesn't expect Zambrano to return to the team this season.
"I know he won't be here for probably the remainder of the season, and I don't know if he'll be here after that," Dempster said. "That's something that's out of our hands as players, and I'm sure the front office and management will deal with that."
It's not Zambrano's first brush with controversy. He was put on the restricted list for six weeks last season and sent to anger management classes after a dugout clash with Derrek Lee. He also had a dugout fight with former Cubs catcher Michael Barrett in 2007.
"No, it's not my profession," Dempster said when asked if he understands why these things happen to Zambrano. "As a human being, as a person, Carlos has been great. He's been so supportive of me and my family and anything that we've ever done.
"I think something just happens when it comes to being out there on the field that makes him do certain things, and I don't know the answers to that. But I know the guys who are here right now want to be here, and we're happy we have the opportunity we have and will go out there and play as hard as we can."
After a disappointing first half of the season, the Cubs were going for their fifth straight series win Wednesday in Houston.
"Sometimes when the going gets tough, it's the hardest thing to do, but the best thing to do is just look in the mirror and say, 'What can I do to make things better to help this team win today?'" Dempster said. "That's how I'm looking at it.
"I'm not going to sit here and bash him or rip him. He made some choices and he has to live with those choices and figure out what the repercussions are from those."