Carlos Zambrano’s Cubs career ended badly, with him stalking off the field after allowing five home runs to the Braves August 12, 2011 and saying he was “retiring.”
The following offseason Theo Epstein traded him to the Marlins, where he had a mediocre season and was let go. Since then, Zambrano has pitched in Triple-A for the Phillies, and in a couple of winter leagues, with little success.
Now, Big Z is making another attempt to come back to baseball, this time with the independent league Chicago Dogs. He was in Marlins Park Monday night visiting:
But as often as old friends found him on the field for hugs and jokes about whether he could pitch Monday, Zambrano had an air of seriousness behind his smiles while he watched the Cubs take batting practice.
Maybe because he already has a job playing baseball again.
Zambrano hesitated at first, then showed the email from the independent Chicago Dogs, who are based in Rosemont, welcoming him to the 2019 team.
Gordon Wittenmyer’s article says that Zambrano’s life “changed” after he attended a Christian youth conference in Venezuela several years ago, and that he thinks it’s his “calling from God” to pitch again:
He pitched in Mexico last year, but he said the effort was more about ‘‘obedience to God’’ than personal conviction or passion.
Now he’s all-in, especially after his fastball went from a Mexican League-best 89 mph last year to 94 mph during winter ball in Venezuela.
‘‘I want to see if I can throw 95 again,’’ he said.
This seems like a quixotic quest, but if Big Z can really throw 95 miles per hour again, and throw strikes? He’d certainly get big-league teams interested in him.
Even though Zambrano has been out of the big leagues for almost seven years, it should be noted that he’s six days younger than Ben Zobrist, and several pitchers his age or older are still in the big leagues. Among those are Adam Wainwright, Pat Neshek, Oliver Perez, CC Sabathia and Fernando Rodney.
Please note that I am not suggesting the Cubs sign Zambrano, though I’m pretty sure they’ll at least send a scout to a Chicago Dogs game to check him out. Wittenmyer’s article says Z will be in Chicago for a physical May 2 and the Dogs season begins May 17.
If nothing else, Zambrano’s presence ought to help the Dogs sell some tickets.
If Carlos Zambrano pitches well for the Chicago Dogs, should the Cubs take a chance on him?
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