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updated: 1/14/2011 10:06 PM

Zambrano pumped about 'this season'

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  • Pitcher Carlos Zambrano talks to the press during the first day of the Cubs convention Friday at the Hilton in Chicago.

       Pitcher Carlos Zambrano talks to the press during the first day of the Cubs convention Friday at the Hilton in Chicago.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
 

Believe it or not, the Cubs managed to find some highlights of the 2010 season to show as part of their video montage opening this year's fan convention.

Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Tyler Colvin, Carlos Marmol and Marlon Byrd all managed to make the film, whose highlight was a moving tribute to Cubs great Ron Santo, who died last month.

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But as far as 2010 goes, everybody was more than ready to turn the page, no one more so than pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

"Let's talk about this year," Zambrano said before Friday's opening ceremonies. "Let's talk about this year. I'm ready for this season and excited for this season.

"I'm excited for the season, and I'm ready for anything. I wish we can start tomorrow."

Zambrano made a cameo appearance or two in the video, but nothing was shown of the dugout meltdown that cost him part of June and most of July as he underwent anger-management treatment.

There were big cheers for Zambrano during the opening ceremonies, with a few boos reserved for team president Crane Kenney and general manager Jim Hendry.

Favorite son Kerry Wood got the loudest ovation, as he returns from two years in the American League. Wood, the last Cub introduced, also tossed out the ceremonial first pitch to start the festivities.

No doubt Zambrano will have to play an important role if the Cubs hope to get back into contention this year. Whether Zambrano is the opening-day starter is another issue. Earlier this week, manager Mike Quade said he'll choose from among Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and newcomer Matt Garza.

That seemed to sit well with the "new" Zambrano.

"It's up to him," Zambrano said of Quade. "He has the keys in his hand. Whatever he decides to do, I'm fine with it. I just want to keep doing my job for this team and keep this team in a good chemistry."

Hendry sounded a confident note that Zambrano has indeed turned the corner emotionally.

"I don't see that there's any reason he can't continue and be that successful," Hendry said of Zambrano's 8-0 finish to the 2010 season. "I think he's no different than anybody else. He certainly has learned from some of his mistakes, like we all should in life. I feel in my chats with him a couple times over the off-season that he seems to have a good handle.

"It's not like he hasn't been a real good guy a lot of his career, too. Some of the mistakes that were obviously the most well known or well documented are easily correctible. Sometimes you walk that fine line when guys that drive on emotion sometimes have a few bad situations because of that same emotion. I find him to be in a real good place. I think the end of the season helped him."

Zambrano also noted that he's not the only "emotional" pitcher on the Cubs.

"We have another emotional guy on the team -- Garza," Zambrano said. "I've been watching him for some period of time. He's a very emotional pitcher.

"He's a grown man. He has to calm himself down. I've got the same emotion, same passion for the game. Nobody will take that away from me."

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