Carlos Zambrano Breaks Bat Over Knee After Strikeout (Video)

Less than a week after Carlos Zambrano joined our list of weird injuries by hurting his neck watching late-night TV, he almost found himself back on it due to Zambrano-like antics.  Unlike all American and most National League pitchers, Zambrano takes hitting very seriously.  The Cubs would probably prefer that he focus on hurling the ball and not get himself worked up over smashing it, but that just isn’t in Big Z’s nature.  Zambrano is hitting .241 this season and has 22 homers in his 10 year career as a full-time MLB player — nothing to turn your nose up at from a guy who hits 9th in the lineup once every five games.

Because of his success at the plate, Zambrano expects a lot from himself.  That’s probably why he was so angry (despite having learned to control his anger issues) when Astros rookie Jordan Lyles struck him out in the fifth inning on Tuesday night.  Check out the video of Carlos Zambrano breaking a bat over his knee, courtesy of YouTube user houbaseballfreak:

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Carlos Zambrano Injures Neck Watching Late-Night TV

If I were to tell you Carlos Zambrano suffered a non-baseball injury, you would probably think he did something stupid. Maybe you’d figure he got into a fight or punched a wall because he got a question wrong in a game of trivia.  Baseball fans are very aware of Zambrano’s anger management issues, even if he claims to have gotten them under control.  However, his latest injury — a stiff neck — actually sprung up while Carlos was relaxing, if you can believe that.

As we know, weird injuries are a part of professional sports no matter how frustrating they may be.  Guys like Alcides Escobar miss spring training because of bug bites while others like Scott Downs get hurt playing with their kids.  The Shawn Marions of the world even manage to hurt themselves walking into a glass door.  According to the Chicago Tribune via Ben Maller, Zambrano has been battling a stiff neck as a result of his poor posture while watching late-night television.

“I watch TV with my head on the pillow and the chiropractor told me to sit on my back and not my shoulder,” Zambrano said. “I have a little knot. With treatment it will go away. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me. It’s nothing to worry about.”

Fortunately, Big Z will not miss a start for the Cubs.  Not only do they need his arm, but his bat has been helping the team as of late.  Zambrano picked up a win for Chicago on Thursday and recorded three hits.  My advice to the (former?) hot head: less Jimmy Kimmel and a few more z’s.

Carlos Zambrano on Anger Management Issues ‘I’m Cured’

For a guy who became one of Chicago’s biggest punching bags last season, Carlos Zambrano seems to be pretty relaxed. The pitcher was spotted playing slow pitch softball last week and was described as being a “super friendly guy.” That was a stark contrast to the person baseball fans know as the man who has annual blowups and meltdowns on the field.

Let’s see, Zambrano’s lengthy list of missteps includes:

– Going after Derrek Lee in the dugout
– Bumping an umpire and then beating up a Gatorade machine
– Fighting teammate Michael Barrett in the dugout

Despite all these issues, Zambrano says he considers himself a nice guy off the field. I can buy that — maybe Zambrano only just loses it during competition like many other people. Anyway, Zambrano was ordered to take a leave from the team after his blowup against Derrek Lee last year and he underwent anger management counseling. Asked how those sessions were going, Z said Tuesday via Rotoworld “It’s all done — I’m cured.”

Zambrano was just joking around when he said that, but hopefully he’s a new man. He apparently has dropped weight and is hopefully in better shape. I’m hoping he’ll regain his ace form because he’s too good to be having the problems he has. The Cubs signed him to an extension and are paying him big-time money and he needs to earn it.

Carlos Zambrano Stars in Slow Pitch Softball Game

Pitchers and catchers have already reported for spring training throughout Major League Baseball, and for the Chicago Cubs that means showing up in Mesa, Arizona. The workload is generally pretty light the first week of practice because players are easing back into shape. For Carlos Zambrano, he’s apparently even taking the opportunity to get some slow pitch softball in on the side.

A reader of SI Hot Clicks emailed in with that picture and an accompanying story that Big Z played in his softball game Thursday night. According to the Hot Clicks reader, “He played left field every other inning and made sure to use his opposite throwing arm so he wouldn’t screw anything up. He popped up twice and hit one out of the stadium another time. Super friendly guy. He even offered to sign autographs for everyone after the game. Dude looks in shape, at least 20-30 lbs lighter.”

Though the person totally burned Big Z by emailing in the story and publicizing the appearance, I think it’s positive P.R. for Zambrano. He’s been known as a hothead with an attitude problem, so it’s nice to have stories saying he’s friendly and in good shape. Plus, who can’t get down with an athlete helping out some bros in a beer league game? He was no Eric Byrnes, but this event certainly was a win for Carlos.

Minor Leagues Are Asset, Not Demotion

Player development is a tricky proposition for Major League Baseball organizations. It’s hard to know when the right time is to bring someone up to the majors and it’s hard to know what to do with them if they begin struggling. Sometimes players just don’t cut it when they’re initially brought up, or sometimes they do well before they begin struggling. Although it’s seen by many people as a demotion, I believe the minor leagues can be an asset to players, not an embarrassment.

Pitcher Max Scherzer might be the best example of how the minor leagues can be beneficial for a player recently. Scherzer is a fireballer who came to the Tigers in the Edwin Jackson/Curtis Granderson three-way deal via Arizona. Although Scherzer started off well throwing six shutout innings in his first start with Detroit, he started getting bombed later in April. In a string of four straight starts, Max surrendered at least five earned runs each time out seeing his ERA jump from 2.63 to 7.29. The Tigers knew something was wrong so they sent Scherzer down to Triple-A Toledo to face lower-level competition, regain confidence, and redevelop his fastball. The plan worked to perfection.

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Guillen’s Dinner Date With Zambrano Could be Good for the Cubs

On Friday, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox met for round two of the Crosstown Classic. The big story wasn’t the White Sox extending their win streak to 10 games — it was Carlos Zambrano’s meltdown in the dugout after giving up four runs in the first inning. The incident landed Zambrano an indefinite suspension from the Cubs.

After the game, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen met with Big Z for dinner. Now this may seem odd in most situations, but Guillen and Zambrano are known to be good friends because they both hail from Venezuela. Sox GM Kenny Williams said that the Cubs could look at the meeting as a positive thing:

“I view that [dinner], and I’m sure Jim does as well — if he doesn’t, someone needs to let me know and I will speak on the situation — but I view that as nothing but a positive. … Ozzie probably had some things that I’m sure the Cubs and Lou and Jim would have liked to have said to Carlos, that he was able to say in a much different way and probably get through to him.”

I couldn’t agree more. This hasn’t been the best year for Zambrano who was demoted to the bullpen when Ted Lilly was activated from the disabled list. Zambrano was once thought of as the Cubs’ ace and though he never really said he was mad about the move, I think Friday may have been a release of that anger and frustration.

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Moronic Suggestions: Carlos Zambrano for Kei Igawa Trade

Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano had his annual meltdown on Friday, going berserk in the dugout after surrendering four runs in the first inning to the White Sox. His actions were extreme, disrespectful, inappropriate, embarrassing, and it made him look like he was hopped up on drugs. The Cubs did the right thing by sending him home and saying he would be suspended indefinitely. However, I disagree with their decision to move him to the bullpen once he’s reactivated. Still, even moving him back to the bullpen is better than this idiotic suggestion by Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rogers. Rogers personifies what media overreaction is all about and gives sports writers a bad name with horrible ideas like this one:

The only way to trade a guy like that is to take someone’s bad contract off their hands. The Astros’ Carlos Lee fits that bill (can you imagine him and Alfonso Soriano on the same diamond?) but the one that makes a little sense is Kei Igawa, the little lefty who cost the Yankees $46 million and hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2008, working on his craft with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

While I can agree that there’s merit to the idea that the Cubs might have to get rid of Zambrano, feeling like all you can do is settle for a stiff like Kei Igawa is exactly why you shouldn’t trade him. First off, not only is Houston so far away from winning where I don’t think they would want Zambrano, but how would adding Carlos Lee help? That would create a further logjam of outfielders, giving the Cubs six pretty good ones with only three available spots. That wouldn’t help them at all. Now acquiring Igawa? Zambrano is a three-time All-Star who’s finished 5th in Cy Young balloting three times and he’s thrown a no-hitter. He might not be an ace anymore but he still has a record of being a very good pitcher. How on earth would it help the Cubs to trade a guy who has consistently been a good pitcher for someone who’s never proven he can get out a major league hitter?

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