CHICAGO (AP) — Embattled Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano says he'd like to pitch again for Chicago and was simply frustrated when he told club personnel he wanted to retire after his most recent start.
In his first public comments since the team banished him following another meltdown, Zambrano told Comcast SportsNet Chicago in a phone interview Monday that he wants to remain a Cub.
"Of course, man" Zambrano said. "Hey, the Cubs have been to me like family. The organization is my family. I've seen people go and people come and I'm still there. ... I want to keep pitching for the Cubs. It was a moment of frustration Friday night, and I pitched so bad I wanted to retire, you know, I don't want to be making $18 million and pitch like crap."
Zambrano cleaned out his locker and talked about retiring after giving up five homers and being ejected from Friday night's 10-4 loss to Atlanta following two inside pitches to Chipper Jones. He says he intended to be at the ballpark the next day, but his agent Barry Praver told him not to "because we were in the middle of discussions with the union and the Cubs."
The Cubs placed Zambrano on the disqualified list Saturday and said the right-hander would receive no pay and have no part in team activities for 30 days after the latest in a long line of incidents.
That includes a fight with former catcher Michael Barrett and a dugout confrontation with then-teammate Derrek Lee last season that led to him being placed on the restricted list for six weeks and sent to anger management.
This season, he called the Cubs "embarrassing" and a "Triple-A team" while calling out closer Carlos Marmol for giving up a tying hit to Ryan Theriot on a slider after a loss to St. Louis in June. But it's not like Zambrano has been doing his part at 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA. The Cubs certainly expected more when he signed a deal adding $91.5 million over five seasons through 2012, including a $17.85 million salary this season and $18 million in 2012.
For that matter, so did Zambrano.
"I feel bad with me, with the performance, with what I am doing or I was doing in the season it's frustrating," he said. "It's frustrating every time I go to the mound and I give up eight runs. It's not me, and I want to do my best."
That's why, he said, he mentioned retirement. He said it was out of frustration and he didn't expect it to leave the clubhouse.
Zambrano said he has a good relationship with manager Mike Quade even though "some of the decisions that he made I didn't like" and called general manager Jim Hendry "a great person." Even so, he didn't understand why he was being punished. He said he deserved it following the blowup with Lee, but this time?
"This one I really don't understand," Zambrano said.
Hendry and Quade weren't the only fed-up Cubs. Several players, including Alfonso Soriano, made it clear they were, too.
Zambrano said he has heard from Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena since the incident and that he understood their frustration with him. He also insisted he wasn't trying to hit Jones.
"I have to pitch inside, and the pitch was a cutter," he said. "If I want to hit someone, I hit him. I think I have good target when I want to hit someone."
As for his future, Zambrano isn't sure what will happen. He did make it clear he hopes to stay put, though.
"If the Cubs welcome me, I'll be with the team again," he said. "If they decide to do something else, I'll have to play for somebody else. In the bottom of my heart, I will be a Cubbie forever."