Zambrano goes nuts (GETTY)
The Cubs have another mess on their hands. After Friday's 6-0 loss to the White Sox, General Manager Jim Hendry suspended starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano indefinitely.
Zambrano began a dugout tirade after giving up four runs in the bottom of the first inning. He took out part of his wrath on first baseman Derrek Lee, apparently believing Lee should have dived trying to field Juan Pierre's leadoff double down the right-field line.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Lee was upset at Aramis Ramirez and Mike Fontenot, also for not diving for balls. That was before Zambrano gave up a three-run homer to Carlos Quentin.
Piniella sent Zambrano home after the inning, then Hendry suspended him. Later Friday evening, Zambrano had dinner with close friend and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
"It was unacceptable behavior, is what it was," said Piniella, whose own tirades as manager have been well-documented over the years. "He was upset that some our players didn't dive for those balls. Let me tell you, a few of those balls were hit really hard. One was in the seats with two strikes. Regardless, he was ranting and raving. He was out of control."
Hendry claims he has had to speak with Zambrano numerous times in the past for Zambrano showing up teammates.
"They're all disappointing because it becomes a bit of a tired act," Hendry said.
The Cubs will play with 24 men before Major League Baseball and the Players Association work out the length of the suspension.
"His conduct was not acceptable," Hendry said. "His actions toward his teammates and staff are not acceptable. He will not be at the ballpark (Saturday). We'll play with 24.
"Certainly from my viewpoint and the organization's, we'll play with 24 before we tolerate that kind of behavior. It's not the first time I've had to have some intervention with Z. It's something I won't allow the other players to go through without some kind of disciplinary recourse."
Cubs hitters managed just three hits in seven innings off Jake Peavy in the loss.
Zambrano's tantrum drew no support from anybody with the Cubs, but former big league manager and current TV analyst Bob Brenly tried to put it in perspective with some biting comments about the Cubs on the air.
"I'm not a big believer in temper tantrums solving anything or creating momentum for your ballclub, but it's good to see somebody show some emotion in that first base dugout," Brenly said.
"This has been a dead-ass team for the better part of three months to start this season, and God knows there's been enough opportunities for guys to blow a cork. It's good to see somebody finally have an emotional involvement in the game."
Fontenot said players indeed were trying for groundballs, despite what Zambrano might have thought.
"It's unfortunate," Fontenot said. "It's not something you want to happen. We're all out there playing hard. Nobody wants to lose. Nobody wants the other team to get hits when you can take hits away."
Guillen had some obvious opinions on Zambrano. Guillen is friends with Zambrano and was asked if he could handle Zambrano and his antics.
"Yes I can, yes I can, why not?" Guillen replied. "This is not tampering, either. He asked me a question and I answered it. I can manage anybody. I can. Why not? You go about your stuff, you believe in yourself, you believe in respect. I'm not afraid (to manage) any player in baseball because I'm going to give them all the respect I can to perform for me."
As far as the yelling by Zambrano in the dugout, Guillen said: "I kind of like it. Boxing is going so bad, if Don King sees that he will put that in Vegas. Those are two big boys. That always happens when teams aren't playing well, stuff, the intensity of the game. That can happen a lot. Coming out here and playing in this type of game with the fans out there, all the media around, that's part of the game."