Pena: Z wasn’t target of ‘culture’ observation
by Gordon wittenmyer email@example.com August 14, 2011 9:38PM
Chicago Cubs' Carlos Pena (22) hits a two-run homer to give Chicago the 6-5 lead over the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning of their baseball game on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, at Turner Field in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Tulis)
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:28AM
ATLANTA — Carlos Pena said he wasn’t talking about Carlos Zambrano two weeks ago when he said the Cubs needed a ‘‘culture’’ change, including improved chemistry.
‘‘I would never single out any one of my teammates because that would defeat the purpose of what I’m trying to say,’’ Pena said of comments at the trading deadline that have been widely revisited and reframed in the wake of Zambrano’s desertion Friday and his subsequent suspension.
‘‘I’m talking about being united, being together, working for a common goal and being positive and expecting things to happen and really being proud to wear the uniform,’’ said Pena, whose two-run homer in the seventh inning Sunday was the go-ahead shot in the Cubs’ 6-5 victory over Atlanta. ‘‘That’s what I mean by culture.’’
Never mind that it still sounds like it could refer to Zambrano’s issues; Pena’s observations are more about a first-year Cub coming to grips with the enormity of the franchise’s heartbreak history.
‘‘Yeah, and that’s actually a very heavy burden to carry, one that we need to set down,’’ said Pena, who is presumed to be one of the team leaders behind the ‘‘F**k the Goat’’ T-shirts the team broke out in June.
‘‘We understand what’s there, but at the same time, it’s like, ‘What serves us?’ ’’ added Pena, who notes the drought reminder provided every day at home by the Eamus Catuli sign. ‘‘At the end of the day, we want to win, we want to beat this, this big cloud. We don’t want that over us anymore.
‘‘So how do we get there? Do we focus on it or do we put it aside? Put it aside and begin — even if it’s only in our own minds — begin fresh, brand new.’’
Of course, many will say that starts, finally, with severing ties with Zambrano, even if Pena — who seemed to befriend Big Z this year —wasn’t going there.
‘‘The Red Sox were able to do it,’’ Pena said. ‘‘Communism ended in Russia. That’s what I’m talking about when I say improvement in culture.’’
By the way, if it sounds as if Pena is planning to remain with the Cubs after his one-year contract expires, that’s because ‘‘I hope so,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t run the team, but I feel very much a part of the team here. . . . I don’t want to feel like I’m a freelancer. I want to be part of this family.’’
The Cubs plan to recall Casey Coleman from Class AAA Iowa to take Zambrano’s slot in the rotation Wednesday in Houston. They were mulling the possibility Sunday of bringing up a fresh bullpen guy until then.
◆ Matt Garza, Alfonso Soriano, Darwin Barney and the Cubs’ bullpen brought the longest hitting streak in the majors this year (33 games) to an end when Dan Uggla went 0-for-4, including a low liner to left caught by Soriano in the first and a flare to no-man’s land in right that Barney snared in the fifth.