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Quade: Z apology welcome, unneeded

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

DENVER — Cubs manager Mike Quade said he appreciated Carlos Zambrano’s apology after the pitcher left the mound before Quade got there during a pitching change Wednesday night in Houston, but he said it was unnecessary.

‘‘I just didn’t think it was that big a deal. I really didn’t. I didn’t need an apology to make this thing right,’’ said Quade, responding differently than his predecessor, Lou Piniella, who made Zambrano return to the mound for the ball exchange after a similar incident in 2008.

‘‘I don’t think my ego’s so big that .  .  . he’s upset. Just don’t drop the thing.’’

Zambrano said he was so locked into his thoughts that he didn’t know he left the mound early until teammate Kerry Wood told him afterward.

‘‘If another teammate made him aware of that, ‘Look, you left too soon,’ good for him,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Those guys can police that kind of stuff more than I have to.’’

Honor of 42

Wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day in baseball Friday had a more personal meaning for Quade than some.

Quade, who began his ­professional playing and ­managing career in the ­Pittsburgh Pirates organization, once worked for Branch Rickey Jr., son of the Brooklyn ­Dodgers general manager who signed Robinson to become the first black major-leaguer since Fleet Walker in the 1880s.

‘‘There was pretty good family pride with that,’’ Quade said. ‘‘[Robinson] breaks the color barrier, and it changes society. It changes the game, but not just baseball ­specifically.

‘‘My understanding of the story is Branch Rickey deserves a ton of credit for doing a very difficult thing — the right thing, unfortunately at a time in this country where some people didn’t think so. .  .  . It opened the door for the black player, the Latin players. We’re probably more diversified [in baseball] than our country.

‘‘It’s an honor.’’

First taste of Coors

Casey Coleman has heard the horror stories pitchers tell about Coors Field, but he wonders if the legendary hitting conditions might not work in his favor when he pitches there for the first time tonight, if only as extra incentive to keep the ball down.

‘‘People always talk about it,’’ said Coleman, who made his season debut Sunday filling in for the injured Randy Wells. ‘‘I don’t really look into it as much because there are other fields that are hitter’s ballparks, too. I felt like the ball in Milwaukee the other day was carrying well there, so that turned into a ­hitter’s ballpark.

‘‘Some days at Wrigley when the wind’s blowing out — I mean, every ballpark has days when it’s tough to pitch.’’


Kosuke Fukudome, who strained his hamstring Sunday, might be ready to return tonight. ‘‘He’s real close, but when a guy tells me he’s ready, I always like to give him one more day,’’ Quade said.

◆ Quade said he expects to decide today how he’ll fill the fifth starter slot next time around, on Tuesday. If it’s filled in-house, he plans to use a Jeff Samardzija-James Russell tandem (one way or the other), but he reiterated he doesn’t see either reliever as a long-term solution.

◆ First-base umpire Jerry Layne was forced to leave the game Friday in the second inning after being hit in the left foot by a Carlos Pena foul line drive.

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