Kevin Millar, a spring training teammate of Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs this year, appears to be one of the few, if not the only, ``teammate'' to have reached Zambrano since Friday's incident at U.S. Cellular Field.
Now an MLB Network analyst, Millar talked about Zambrano's take on the incident - echoing the explanation a source close to Zambrano gave to the Sun-Times on Saturday.
``I spoke with him the other day, after the games on Saturday, and the main thing he wanted to get across was that at times guys like Carlos, they don't know how to handle or how to fire up a team,'' Millar said. ``There wasn't one play that made him mad; it was just the whole team and the way they've been playing made him made, and then he was frustrated, he said, after his inning and came in and was basically trying to pump all the guys up.''
Multiple Cubs on Saturday scoffed at that explanation, given the ``this team is horse----!'' venom spewing throughout his tirade.
``He told me a week before that he wanted to get Carlos Silva to do something to the team because he's doing well, and Carlos Zambrano said that he knew [Silva] wasn't the right guy to do this at this time because of his struggles,'' Millar said. ``I told him straight up, I said, `You can't say this team's playing like girls. ... you can't say that this whole team that's not clicking for some reason or `We're not playing hard' because he's a big part of that problem.
``He understood that ... and that's what he was trying to get across. It wasn't a personal thing with Derrek Lee - obviously, Derrek Lee took it personal, and [Zambrano] felt terrible and we obviously see what happened in the dugout. We see the way he's reacted, and this is the second time. [In 2007,] he went out and fought Michael Barrett and beat up Michael Barrett. Well, then they end up trading Michael Barrett thinking that, `OK, we'll get rid of him but something has to be done.' Now [Zambrano] going to anger-management counseling ...I think this is the new fad that we're trying to show that at least there's an effort there.''
More cynical baseball executives have suggest, particularly in Milton Bradley's case with Seattle last month, that ``seeking help'' and refuge on the restricted list helps keep the big contract secure in the face of behavior that might be used to justify heavy financial penalties.
Millar continued: ``That was basically his view, that he shouldn't have done it, he wasn't the right guy to do it, he wanted Carlos Silva to do it last week. It wasn't one play. It wasn't the Derrek Lee play that caused this whole scene. He ran in the dugout and was yelling at the whole group.''
Asked whether Zambrano - who has a full no-trade clause (and 2 ½ years at $45 million left on his contract) - wants to remain with the Cubs, Millar said:
``I think he wants to heal the situation, whether he remains a Chicago Cub or not. Who knows if the wounds are too deep? Who knows? That's Jim Hendry's job. But see this is the problem: We give huge contracts to players, and now we think, `Oh, that equals leadership,' or, `If a guy's doing well, that equals leadership.' That's not the case. You create these monsters through organizations, and Carlos Zambrano's Carlos Zambrano.
``I think they knew this was an intense guy. I think they knew this [is a] guy who dances to a different beat at time. But he's not a bad human being by any means.''