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Cubs place Carlos Zambrano on disqualified list

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano (38) reacts second inning AtlantBraves Chicago Cubs baseball game Friday Aug. 12 2011 Turner

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano (38) reacts in the second inning of the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs baseball game, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at Turner Field in Atlanta. Zambrano allowed a career-worst five homers, and manager Mike Quade said he then left the team. Quade said, "His locker is empty. He walked out on 24 guys ... I don't know where he's gone or what he's doing." (AP Photo/Dave Tulis)

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Updated: August 14, 2011 12:10AM

ATLANTA — The Cubs took the first step Saturday in assuring Carlos Zambrano’s sudden exit from the clubhouse Friday night becomes a permanent one, putting the mercurial pitcher on Major League Baseball’s disqualified list.

That move includes a 30-day ban from activity with the team, during which Zambrano will not be paid. The Cubs anticipate a players-union grievance.

Further disciplinary action could follow, based on MLB and union findings and discussions.

Unlike the restricted list, which was used to suspend Zambrano after last year’s dugout tirade on the South Side, this move allows the Cubs to replace him on the roster during the suspension period.

‘‘This was really the most stringent penalty that our club could impose without a release,’’ general manager Jim Hendry said. ‘‘From the club’s point of view, after [any potential grievance], Major League Baseball and the players association will have to work out where the discipline goes, concerning his actions on and off the field.’’

Zambrano, 30, has one more guaranteed year, at $18 million, left on his contract. He’ll lose roughly $3 million over the next 30 days.

Hendry sidestepped a question about whether he plans to allow Zambrano to pitch again for the Cubs. But he has tried to move Zambrano for much of the last year. There was no interest from contenders leading up to last month’s non-waiver trade deadline despite a willingness to eat most of the money left on the contract.

The latest in a long list of high-profile transgressions — most of them since signing a $91.5 million extension in the summer of 2007 —could mean Zambrano’s release before next season if the Cubs don’t find a taker or are able to negotiate a buyout.

Longtime teammates weary of his repeated selfish behavior privately say they don’t want Zambrano back.

Zambrano, who tied a franchise record with five home runs allowed Friday, was ejected for throwing at Atlanta’s Chipper Jones in the fifth inning. Jones was the first batter he faced after pitching coach Mark Riggins let him know his night was almost done.

After calmly leaving the mound as the Braves’ bench emptied, Zambrano cleaned out his locker, told clubhouse personnel he intended to retire and left Turner Field with the game still in progress. He later called and texted goodbyes to team personnel.

‘‘There’s not much worse than running out on your teammates during a ballgame, packing your locker, announcing your retirement,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘I think that is a tremendous problem with the other 24 guys. And something that we as an organization could not tolerate.’’

Hendry said Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, told him Saturday that his client doesn’t want to retire. Praver didn’t return repeated voice and text messages.

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