Zambrano back to pen when he does return
One day after the Carlos Zambrano Incident at U.S. Cellular Field, this emerged as clear: There are deep wounds to heal, and it's going to take time for the former ace to return to the good graces of the Cubs and his teammates.
The Cubs suspended Zambrano indefinitely Friday for a dugout tirade in which he is said to have blasted his teammates for not diving for balls during the White Sox' 4-run first inning.
Assistant general manager Randy Bush said Saturday that the Cubs sent a letter to Major League Baseball informing MLB of the team-issued suspension.
Bush said he did not know how long the suspension would end up lasting. He also said owner Tom Ricketts has been apprised of the situation and that a "sit-down" between Ricketts and the baseball department concerning the Zambrano situation is possible this week.
As far as trading Zambrano, Bush said that has not been discussed.
Manager Lou Piniella, who called a 15-minute team meeting before Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the White Sox, reiterated that Zambrano will have to apologize to his teammates before being reinstated.
Piniella also revealed that Zambrano will lose his spot in the starting rotation for a second time this year, this time to left-hander Tom Gorzelanny.
Asked if the bullpen move was long term, Piniella replied: "It's not short term, that's for sure."
After Friday's 6-0 loss to the White Sox, Piniella termed Zambrano's behavior "unacceptable," after Zambrano ranted and raved and had to be separated from first baseman Derrek Lee.
Piniella did not back down Saturday.
"Put it this way, I said yesterday that when he gets back, he'll have to apologize to his teammates," the manager said.
Does he expect Zambrano back with the Cubs?
"I would think at some point, yes," he said. "There's some work that needs to be done. This is an organizational decision. I support it entirely. I was part of the process. But he'll be back sometime."
One thing Zambrano will have to do is face his teammates, many of whom have seen this kind of behavior many times in the past and have grown weary of it.
"I don't know how many answers I have regarding this," said veteran pitcher Ted Lilly. "Obviously, it wasn't something that was conducive to us winning games.
"What he needs to do, I don't think that's my call as to what the requirements (are). From past experiences, I would prefer stuff that goes on during the course of the season to be inside the clubhouse, where it's not evident. Keep private matters private."
Did Lilly believe Zambrano could pitch for the Cubs again?
"He's certainly physically capable of (it)," Lilly said before striking a more conciliatory tone. "Is it something, a relationship, that can be repaired with the team? Definitely, I believe so."
However, Lilly did acknowledge that Zambrano has work to do after showing up teammates many times over the years.
"It's going to be challenging, absolutely," he said. "You're asking me what could happen a week, two weeks, from now, I don't know. We'll find out."
Neither Piniella nor Bush seemed happy that Zambrano went out for dinner Friday night with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, a dinner that was planned before Zambrano's blowup.
"I'm disappointed in that from Carlos' perspective," Bush said. "Nothing against Ozzie. I think the world of Ozzie. I would have thought that with the events of yesterday, Carlos would have gone home, spent some time reflecting on what happened, thought about his career and his teammates and maybe where he was at. I'm disappointed he was out yucking it up at dinner.
"I don't know if he's taking it seriously or not. But again, I would have thought he would have gone home and thought about the events of the day, where his career is at, what his standing was with his teammates and the organization."