Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

New year, same Big Z

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He might be off the caffiene and energy drinks but even a better hydrated, less jacked-up Carlos Zambrano is no less hulking, animated and reactionary on the mound than he ever was. Anyboyd watching Friday's game on TV saw that in the Phillies' decisive sixth inning when Pat Burrell drove a run-scoring double over lead-footed Daryle Ward, who was in right field getting his first start of the season.

Zambrano threw up his arms and tossed his head in exasperation at the play -- one of several moments in the game he reacted emotionally and vigorously.

The apparent show of anger at a teammate was downplayed and denied in the clubhouse afterward. Asked if Zambrano was agitated, manager Lou Piniella said, ``I don't know about that. I don't think that was a problem.''

Although it looked like a ball Kosuke Fukudome might have caught if he wasn't playing center for the day, Piniella defended Ward, saying, ``I don't think anybody would have caught the ball that Burrell hit.''

Zambrano said none of the plays in that ugly sixth inning -- including a foul ball off third that third baseman Aramis Ramirez overran -- bothered him. ``No, not at all,'' he said.

And he wasn't upset, he said, at himself or anybody else. ``No, no.''

But he didn't deny that he got emotional.

``Always,'' he said, smiling. ``You're talking with Carlos Zambrano, man. Always.''

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With the exception of Rich Hill's issues on the mound, the Cubs are looking good. Yes it's early but overall, they're playing smart baseball and executing well. I think Rich Hill will settle down early on. It's a long season. Nice to start it with some really good ball play. A glimpse of some exciting things to come.

@krypto: I agree that they will be were they need to be to win the division but they have not been fundamentally sound on D. Overall the outfield has been wonderful (excluding last nights game) but the infield has been very shaky. For the most part, I think they will come around but is supposed to be the one area that never slumps.

Honestly, I see the cubs finishing around .500. They don't score enough runs because they're so horrible with risp. Lilly and Hill can't get anyone out. Lee, Ramirez, and Soriano seem to disappear when the cubs need them the most. Solo HR's are nice but even nicer when they're hit in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game. What they really need is a left handed power bat, but those are so hard to come by. Everyone keeps saying its early, which it is, but this team looks no better than last years and the division looks tougher, a bad combination.

Hey Ryno, Fuku is our left-handed power bat.

Big Z is an intimidator. I don't understand why he would ever give up the antics, and he won't. Thank God.

The Cubs are awesome. This is the year. The universe has aligned. Whoever reads this, remember it when we record the 27th out of the WorldSeries game 6 at Wrigley vs. the Sawx and pop the bottles! The ensuing party will last another 100 years.

My psychic powers are known coast-to-coast, so I'd take that little piece of info to the sportsbook at the Palms, celebrate in vegas for a couple nights, and rest on your laurels because you'd have just made the best bet in history.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on April 11, 2008 10:00 PM.

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