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Carlos Zambrano keeps cool after teammate’s error

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was the perfect setting for a Carlos Zambrano explosion.

The first batter the never-boring Cubs pitcher faced in his Cactus League outing Tuesday hit a ground ball to second that Blake DeWitt mishandled, allowing the Colorado Rockies’ Willy Taveras to reach first. It was scored a single by spring-training standards.

Zambrano calmly worked out of the jam without a single huff or puff. So is he really ‘‘cured’’?

‘‘Changed man? Nah, I’m the same, bro,’’ he said after his three innings.

But his other answers and the way he has been in the clubhouse are giving his secret away.

‘‘He’s been fantastic from Day 1 with the pitchers and catchers, right on through with the regulars getting here,’’ manager Mike Quade said. ‘‘With our conversation with the three guys [at the top of the rotation] about how we’re setting this thing up, I have nothing but good things to say about ‘Z.’ ’’

Though he took the loss after allowing one run and five hits Tuesday, Zambrano had nothing but good things to say about where he is mentally.

‘‘I have to do my job and not worry about anyone else’s job,’’ he said. ‘‘This year, I want to concentrate on what I want to do, what I can do. I don’t want to worry about left field, center field, whatever. I want to worry about what’s going on on the mound.’’

Fighting for a spot

Even with an 0-for-the-afternoon against the Rockies, speedy Fernando Perez has been opening eyes as a candidate for a spot as a reserve outfielder.

‘‘When you have a guy with that kind of skill and with that tool, to just sit and watch and say, ‘OK, when’s he going [to steal]?’ I’m not dictating any of that,’’ Quade said. ‘‘The green light is the green light, and he’s going to pick his pitch. It’s a real nice luxury to have that kind of speed. And if you can get on first, it’s a heck of a thing.

‘‘The idea that the guy can steal a base is huge. But the threat can go a long way in causing pitchers a lot of problems.’’

More on Silva

Pitcher Carlos Silva admitted he turned to Zambrano for some advice after his dismal outing Monday. On Tuesday, Dr. Z shared what he told Silva.

‘‘I told him to relax and be the same guy he was in Minnesota,’’ Zambrano said, referring to Silva’s days with the Twins. ‘‘I told him whatever happened, happened, and don’t let anything ruin your preparation for the season.’’

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