Ryan Dempster: Carlos Zambrano’s ‘made his bed’
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 14, 2011 12:10AM
Carlos Zambrano’s teammates had gotten tired of his act. The players appeared to be in an upbeat mood Saturday in the clubhouse. | Getty Images
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:26AM
ATLANTA — Wherever the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano go from here, Z-weary players left in the wake of his latest me-first moment seem fine with making sure it’s in different directions.
Even before Randy Wells and the bullpen pitched the Cubs to an 8-4 victory Saturday night over the Atlanta Braves, the positive vibe in the clubhouse was apparent on the day the club put Zambrano on baseball’s disqualified list.
‘‘I think the guys in here are pretty upbeat today,’’ pitcher Ryan Dempster said. ‘‘He’s made his bed; he’s got to sleep in it. For us, we’ll just go out there and give our best tonight and move forward. The faster you move forward, the faster things get better.’’
Assuming the Cubs follow through on plans to move the enigmatic Zambrano, who has been more ache than ace for the Cubs since being given a $91.5 million extension in 2007, they’ll create one more hole to fill in a roster area already short on depth.
But if the quality of the clubhouse means anything — not to mention somebody such as Wells stepping up — then shedding Zambrano could be the Cubs’ top addition-by-subtraction move since the Milton Bradley trade two years ago.
‘‘It’s not like it’s something new,’’ said Dempster, who doesn’t expect Zambrano to pitch again for the team. ‘‘It’s been one after another. We’ve learned to deal with it pretty good. . . .
‘‘We’ll worry about our guys we’ve got today and go out there and have a good time, and, who knows, maybe it’ll be best for both sides.’’
When Zambrano cleaned out his locker and quit on his team during the game Friday, it was just the latest in a long line of unprofessional, bad-teammate moments that have worn thin on longtime teammates — from punching out his catcher, Michael Barrett, in 2007, to taking on team leader Derrek Lee in a dugout altercation at U.S. Cellular Field last season.
‘‘He’s been doing a lot of things —not one, not two,’’ left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. ‘‘He’s a big man, but I think mentally he’s weak.’’
Despite the public appearance of a calmer, saner Zambrano this season after last year’s anger-management therapy, the pitcher who pronounced himself ‘‘cured’’ during spring training continued to have self-control issues.
General manager Jim Hendry alluded to incidents beyond the ‘‘we stinks’’ finger-pointing speech in St. Louis in June and the time he left the mound in Houston before Mike Quade arrived for the pitching change.
‘‘We’ve had other instances of him not being the teammate I would [like] him to be,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘Not all of that is public.’’
It now appears some of that is what first baseman Carlos Pena meant two weeks ago when he said the team needed to improve its ‘‘intangibles’’ and ‘‘chemistry.’’
Teammates seem more fatigued by what has become a tired Zambrano act than especially angry.
‘‘I know he’s not a bad guy,’’ third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. ‘‘He just doesn’t know how to control his emotions sometimes. He just loses it.’’
Said Soriano: ‘‘I think he needs to find some guy to talk to him because he’s got a problem. A lot of people try to help him, but he doesn’t let them help, because that’s him.’’
The irony was not lost on many that Zambrano’s latest embarrassment came on a night an organization that would’ve sent him packing years ago honored a manager, Bobby Cox, who wouldn’t have tolerated his behavior from the start.
‘‘You can understand a single moment; you can understand a bad game,’’ ex-Braves pitching great John Smoltz said. ‘‘But there’s too many moments that have happened, and I’m sure something’s going to have to be addressed differently because you can’t put your team in that position.’’
Asked how long Zambrano might have lasted with Atlanta, Smoltz said, ‘‘That’s a question that I think [has] an easy answer, but maybe it would be different. . . . Just based on the track record of the Braves and Bobby Cox — we probably didn’t get some players that may have been a good fit physically, talent-wise, [because] they may not have been a good fit for the clubhouse.’’
Said Marlon Byrd: ‘‘Zambrano’s going to come back, and he’s going to apologize. I’m sure he’s going to pitch again. Where? I don’t know.’’