The headline isn't intended to be snarky -- it happens to be exactly what Carlos Zambrano said about himself:
"My problem is I've been lazy," a contrite Zambrano said. "There are things in life you don't like to do, but you have to do them. I don't like abs [abdominal muscle workouts], but I have to do them. I have to start doing them every day and be serious about it."
Doctors are convinced stronger abdominal muscles will ease the pain on back discs, one of which is bulging and has caused Zambrano pain on and off for a few years.
"I've got to be honest with me and with you [media] guys and the fans. I'm 28 years old, I'm not 16 anymore," Zambrano said. "I'm a big guy and I work hard every day, [but] one of the things I don't like to do is my abs, my core work. If I do abs every day and keep doing my job and be serious about my abs, I'll be OK."
It's a fact of life -- each one of us, whether professional athlete or not, has to work harder as we get older to stay in good health and physical condition. At 28, Z should still have several years of top form left, but he's right; he has to work harder and do what the doctors tell him to do in order to keep the back problems from recurring. I hope he does exactly that, because the Cubs need him to be in top form not only for any playoff chances this year, but for at least the next four years (the three remaining on his deal plus a 2013 option year). With 103 career wins, Z ranks 21st on the Cubs' all-time list; he'll likely finish 2009 fifth on the Cubs' all-time K list. It's possible he could wind up as the leader in both categories and rank high on many other team pitching lists. Oh... and help lead the Cubs to a World Series, too.
Other morning notes as we wait for a late-night (Chicago time) start in San Diego tonight:
- Ted Lilly returns from the DL tonight, probably limited to 85-90 pitches. Fortunately, the bullpen got an unexpected day of rest yesterday, so everyone should be ready to go.
- Ryan Theriot missed yesterday's game with the stomach flu, didn't take the team charter to San Diego (with permission), and may miss tonight's game as well.
- That means Aaron Miles might start at SS tonight. (Yes, you can groan here.) Aramis Ramirez should, however, also be ready to go. The Cubs are 1-2 in games started at SS by Miles. For one of those losses, don't blame Miles -- it was the May 5 loss to the Giants started by Tim Lincecum. The other two were a May 10 win at Milwaukee and an August 4 loss at Cincinnati.
That ought to keep you all going till this evening.