Carlos Zambrano eyes 2012 retirement

ST LOUIS -- Enjoying his best run of pitching in more than two years, the always-controversial Carlos Zambrano said after winning his ninth game of the season Wednesday that he will retire when his contract ends after the 2012 season.

"I told you the other day, this will be my last contract," Zambrano said. "This will be my last contract. I won't be playing anymore. I don't want to play anymore. Life is short. Sometimes you miss things with your family, like very important people, like my daughter. Sometimes you miss things in life because of baseball that you shouldn't miss. I want to be there any moment for my daughter and my family. Baseball takes a lot of time away from us."

This news is the latest development in what has been an up-and-down season for the Cubs starter. After a slow start, Zambrano's notorious temper flared up when he got into a dugout confrontation with teammate Derrek Lee during a Cubs game against the White Sox on June 25. Four days later, the Cubs put him on the restricted list, and their Opening Day starter missed a month while undergoing anger management therapy.

After a brief stint in the bullpen upon his return, Zambrano has looked like a new man. He is 6-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA since returning to the rotation Aug. 9.

It looks as though those anger management sessions have helped Zambrano become a better teammate. In the past, if a fielder behind him made an error, he'd often stare them down, and occasionally confront them. However, in the past two games, errors have extended innings, but the now mild-mannered Zambrano doesn't react to negative situations.

"I want to enjoy the game the most I can the next two or three years of my contract," Zambrano said. "I don't think I'll be playing anymore after these three years, and I will enjoy every moment I can in the big leagues for the next three years."

Zambrano signed a $91-million contract extension in 2007 that runs through the 2012 season. He is owed $36 million over the deal's two remaining seasons.

Zambrano has a career record of 114-74. He has played all nine of his big league seasons with the Cubs.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.