June 01, 2011
Despite being a pitcher, Carlos Zambrano(notes) takes deep pride in his hitting: He's batting .346 with a .538 slugging percentage this season, and he has a career line of .240/.248/.393 with 22 homers in 688 plate appearances. Yeah, he can rake a bit.
Also, he still has a temper. You've probably heard about it once or twice.
So, what happens when you combine those personality traits and mix it with failure in the heat of a Major League Baseball game?
Well, Carlos was going to take it out on something.
This time, a bat caught the brunt of Big Z's rage. He snapped it in two big pieces (plus lots of tiny splinters) over his knee after striking out against Houston's Jordan Lyles(notes) in the fifth inning on Tuesday night.
The crowd at Wrigley Field seemed to think it was great. They hooted and hollered as Zambrano whacked one piece of wood with the other on his way back to the Chicago Cubs dugout. But the Comcast SportsNet broadcast team of Len Kasper and Bob Brenly worried that Zambrano would hurt himself going off like that, with Brenly even throwing out the phrase "bruised quad." Come on!
While worrying about Z is a constant thing in Chicago, I thought Brenly and Kasper were being loopy. And then manager Mike Quade, via Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune, chimed in after the ballgame:
With all the recent injuries to Cubs players, Quade didn't want to risk another one.
"I don't like that," Quade said. "He doesn't like that. I'm glad he's OK. … I get his frustration, but do something else. I cringe because he can hurt himself. Guys snap all the time, but that's a dangerous one."
Yeah, that was a close one. Hang on. Has anyone ever heard of a ballplayer breaking a bat over his leg and hurting himself? I haven't. Granted, it's Z, and he has a history. Perhaps the manager was soured by how the ballgame ended: A 7-3 Astros victory, after Carlos Marmol(notes) blew a save (and then some) in the ninth.
Zambrano invited the media to watch him lift weights to prove his legs can take it. Informed that Quade didn't like the move, Zambrano simply shrugged.
"That's OK," he said. "If he doesn't like it, he doesn't like it. What can I do?"
OK, but if he's lifting weights as well as he claims, why did it take him two tries to break the bat?
That's more like it, big fella!
I wonder if he knows "Wipeout."
UPDATE! Finally, there's an, uh, "end" to this story: Zambrano pulled down his pants in front of Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Sullivan on Wednesday morning to show him that he had not suffered any bruises.