MESA, Ariz. -- Is it really a new Carlos Zambrano?
Time will tell.
Contact information ( * required )
But the Zambrano who met with reporters Tuesday seemed relaxed as he talked about his streak of opening-day starts coming to an end at six this year. Ryan Dempster will get the nod April 1 at Wrigley Field.
Zambrano also was able to joke about the anger-management treatment he got a year ago.
"It's all done; I'm cured," he said while entertaining reporters at his Fitch Park locker.
There was more.
Zambrano said he ended his treatment in October.
"It got approval from the psychologist that I can be by myself," he quipped.
"It did work," Zambrano said of the treatment he received after a dugout tirade last June at U.S. Cellular Field. "That was an experience that I can talk about through the years.
"Maybe I can be a pitching coach or whatever 20 years from now, and I can speak to the young kids about what I went through, what happened in my career, things that I experienced."
Again, time will tell. The Cubs hope the immediate future brings the Zambrano who was 8-0 down the stretch last season after his return to the starting rotation.
Zambrano will open the season as the nominal No. 2 starter, behind Dempster and ahead of Matt Garza. After starting six straight Opening Days, with decidedly mixed results, Zambrano seemed philosophical about not having that honor this year.
"I had the chance to (start) Opening Day here for six years in a row; it's now his turn," Zambrano said of Dempster. "I feel happy for him, and I just want to help this team, like I always say.
"I was waiting for that decision. Whatever he (manager Mike Quade) says, he's the manager, and I'm just here for this team.
"Nothing lasts forever. I wanted to be an opening-day starter for all my years I'm going to be with the Cubs. He chose Dempster for Opening Day. That's OK with me, believe me. He's been pitching much better than I the last two years, and he deserves it."
Zambrano also said he could see Quade's reasoning that he pitches well in Milwaukee. By making the second start of the season, on April 2, he'll be able to face the Brewers at Miller Park on April 8. The opening-day starter will miss the Milwaukee series, barring a rainout before then or a change in plans.
The Cubs seem willing to give Zambrano the benefit of the doubt this year. And there will be many doubts, and doubters who will be waiting for Zambrano to blow up on the field at an umpire or a teammate.
Zambrano acknowledged as much Tuesday.
"My problem is not to be a good person," he said. "I think people can talk about that about me. The problem I have to solve is when I get upset on the field. I think my problem is after I cross those two (foul) lines, whether it's somebody making an error or whether I make an error, that's my problem.
"And I have to focus on that this year. Off the field, I consider myself a nice guy, and people can talk about that. I don't like to talk about myself."