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

Z returns to Wrigley: ``The problem was Carlos Zambrano''

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Carlos Zambrano returned to Wrigley Field Tuesday for the first time since Theo Epstein sent him and more than $15 million of Tom Ricketts' money to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad.

He'll miss pitching against the Cubs again this series - as he did in April when the Cubs were in Miami. But that's the way he wants it, he said.

``To be honest, I didn't want to pitch here,'' he said, ``not this year. ... The time will come that I can come back. ... It would be emotional. It would be something weird to come out of the dugout on the other side.''

Zambrano, who talked openly the last two years about retiring after this contract, clearly plans to keep pitching after this year.

``I love Miami,'' he said. ``I will [continue to pitch after this year]. Maybe I don't know my future, but God knows it. If he wants me to still play, I will play. I'm looking forward to continuing in this city in Miami and why not finish my career here?''

Until then, Zambrano returned to the scene of many of his famous meltdowns - where he punched his catcher, destroyed a Gatorade machine, where he threw a ball into left field to show up an ump - and addressed several topics with Chicago media.

Zambrano on:

HOW HE LOOKS BACK AT CUBS CAREER -- ``Good memories. And I still love these fans. ... Out of 10 ½ years in Chicago, 8 ½ were good. The last two I know was frustrating. It was out of control. But that's in the past.''

MESSAGE TO FANS -- ``Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience and anything that I did. And the only thing that I want to do in Chicago is win. And I really apologize to the Cubs fans, to the people here who treated me good, and they deserve an apology.''

HOW EMOTIONAL BEING HERE IS -- ``When I came in the car, with some friends and my wife, when I got to the light at Addison and Clark, I saw Wrigley Field, and I said, `Wow, I can't believe it. ... Let's move on.' That's what I said in the car. But people welcomed me, from the office and from the team, with a hug.''

WHETHER HE PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON HIMSELF IN THE WAKE OF MARK PRIOR AND KERRY WOOD CYCLING OUT OF THE ROTATION -- ``I think so, yeah. I think I put too much pressure on myself trying to do too much. At the same time, I have to keep pitching and keep playing good. I didn't do that in the last two years.''

WHAT'S DIFFERENT THIS YEAR WITH SEEMINGLY CONSTANT SELF CONTROL -- ``My relationship with the Lord. More focus on what God wants to do with my life. And he will take care of everything.''

QUALITY AS A TEAMMATE (New teammate Mark Buehrle said Z is one of best teammates he's had) -- ``I can be a good teammate. But I also can be a guy that some people don't like, because when I see things that are not right, I come straight to that guy and that's the way I am. I see people lazy or not hustling or people doing things they're not supposed to do, I will come to that guy. And there is where things come out. ... I appreciate that Mark said that. And I always knew he was a good guy, too.''

WHETHER HE'S HAPPY WITH HIS SEASON SO FAR (5-7, 4.22) -- ``Happy, happy? No. You take away a game against Colorado and two against Tampa Bay, and I will be much better. I got crushed by them, and now I have to get back on track and help this team in the second half. But happy happy? No. Because this team pays me to win, same thing when I was with the Cubs and I have only five wins. And it's the second half. ...''

LOSING FOUR WINS BECAUSE OF BLOWN SAVES BY HEATH BELL AND NOT LASHING OUT -- ``Before I do. But not now. People are human. We're all human, and we all make mistakes. That's part of the game. There's nothing I can do about it.''

RECEPTION IN CHICAGO -- ``I've been in the street in Chicago today and I was here last week when we played against the Brewers. I came in town to check my house, and people in the street were very, very pleased with me. Fans - I don't know if it's because of my size or whatever - but people were very pleased with me, saying, ``We miss you Z.'' I appreciate that from the fans. There's some people that still don't like me, but nothing I can do about it.''

FORMER TEAMMATES, RELATIONSHIPS ON TEAM (talked with Soriano, Soto, Garza and clubhouse guys before game) -- ``The problem wasn't them. The problem was not the Cubs. The problem was Carlos Zambrano. That's why Carlos Zambrano is now with the Miami Marlins. If you have to blame somebody, blame me.

And I think it didn't work out the last two years because of me. That's all I can say. I accept it. I admit it. I am responsible for my actions.''

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on July 17, 2012 10:34 PM.

KERRY WOOD ENJOYING RETIREMENT was the previous entry in this blog.

``Cubs Going in the Right Direction'': Ozzie Guillen is the next entry in this blog.

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