Pitcher: Cubs need Carlos Zambrano

Kerry Wood said if volatile pitcher Carlos Zambrano wants to be welcomed back by Chicago Cubs players he will have to "do it the right way."

Zambrano was placed on the disqualified list by the Cubs on Aug. 12 after he was ejected from a game against Atlanta for throwing at Braves third baseman Chipper Jones twice in the same at-bat. Zambrano gave up a Cubs-record five home runs in that game. After being ejected, Zambrano cleaned out his locker, told team personnel he was quitting the team and then left the ballpark.

"I think it's something that he's going to have a lot of new teammates that haven't been through the history with him," Wood said Wednesday on "Carmen, Jurko & Harry" on ESPN 1000. "I think Z has got to worry more about the guys he's done this to a few times. He can have a better impression on the new teammates. The ultimate result is we need him to be a part of this team and help us win. He can be a big part of that.

"It's going to be something he's going to have to address when he comes in and talks to guys and obviously we go from there. But if he wants to be a part of this team and help us win, if he can do it the right way, guys will be willing to have him back in there."

New Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein met in person with Zambrano earlier this month and said the pitcher will get a chance to return to the team this season. Zambrano is pitching in Venezuelan winter ball.

Wood, who has played with Zambrano for nine seasons, likely will be one of those Cubs players who will need to be won over. A free agent, Wood has said he would rather retire than play somewhere else in 2012, and the Cubs have said they want him to return for a 13th major league season with the organization.

"I talked to [Wood's agent Pat Rooney]," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday. "We continue to talk. Like I've said in the past we would love to bring Kerry back. He's an excellent ambassador for the Cubs. Again we continue to talk. The goal is to bring Kerry back. And that has been made very clear."

Wood, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal before last season to return to the Cubs, didn't pitch again after Sept. 18 after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Sept. 30 and was expected to need six weeks to recover.

Wood, 34, was 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 games last season. He had 21 holds as the primary setup man on the right side for closer Carlos Marmol.

ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine contributed to this report.