Zambrano Still Has Wild Side

Carlos Zambrano says his "crazy" days are over. But the emotional Cubs pitcher still is prone to a meltdown or two.

Zambrano kicked dirt, gestured and was flustered in an exhibition loss to Texas on Friday, and Cubs manager Dusty Baker wasn't too pleased about it.

"He's got to get it -- he's the one who has to get it," Baker said. "It can be destructive. Not only to him but possibly to a teammate or two. You learn the hard way, then. We had a long discussion about it (that) night.

"You like atomic energy, too. But it can be constructive or destructive. It depends on what you do with it."

The 24-year-old Zambrano will be the Opening Day pitcher for the Cubs when they visit Cincinnati on April 3. They are hoping for more positive energy and less antics when he takes the mound this year.

"I was a little bit excited," Zambrano said. "I can learn from this. I know the kind of person I am. I don't fight with anybody. It's just a reaction. It's nothing (personal), we want to win the ballgame and pressure gets built up."

Baker is not sure if Zambrano will change or not. And Baker is not sure how to handle it if it keeps up.

"I'll keep talking to him about it," Baker said. "He's a lot like me when I was a player so I know where he's coming from. I can spank a kid. But he's a little too big to spank."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Mark Prior will be examined by team doctors Monday to determine the next course of action. Prior has been idle since March 12 after he strained his right shoulder.

--1B Derrek Lee left camp Friday to be with his ailing grandfather in California. Lee played his first game Thursday since suffering a left shoulder injury in World Baseball Classic play on March 12. The Cubs are not sure when Lee will return to camp.

--LF Matt Murton batted second in the lineup Saturday against Oakland in a split-squad game. Murton is a smart hitter who makes contact and could probably fill that role nicely. But he also has power and the ability to drive in runs, which is why he probably will open the season batting sixth.

--LHP Sean Marshall has allowed no runs on three hits in 10 1/3 innings and appears to be a favorite for the fifth starter spot. "He doesn't have to show more -- I like what he's shown already," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He's shown the ability to throw strikes. The name of the game is to throw strikes and quality strikes."

--OF Felix Pie, who impressed management with his power and speed, was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday. Pie, 21, figures to be called up during the season, but Cubs manager Dusty Baker doesn't have any regular playing time available for Pie right now. "He needs to play," Baker said. "Unless he plays every day, it's not going to help him. He'll be here playing someday. You can see he's skilled and all of the talent is there. Everybody can see that. It's just that we need to get him some experience."

In other roster moves, the Cubs reassigned RHP Randy Wells and LHP Les Walrond to minor league camp.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Consecutive at-bats in which third baseman Aramis Ramirez had hits during a four-game stretch in Cactus League play.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's nothing on hold -- these games are going to go on regardless. The wins and losses go on your record regardless. Nothing is on hold. You wish you can stop time. I'm looking at that clock and the second hand is still ticking." -- Cubs manager Dusty Baker when asked if the team had its plans on hold with the injuries to starting pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.


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