03/26/08 8:20 PM ET
Zambrano ready for Opening Day
Right-hander regrets only one mistake in last tune-up start
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Zambrano had his final spring tune-up, striking out five and giving up four runs and one walk over four innings Wednesday against the Angels.
Is he ready?
"Yeah," Zambrano said. "I said that three starts ago. The most important thing is my command and I'm able to throw first-pitch strikes, and hit the spots and throw good pitches."
The right-hander cruised through the first inning, then walked Kendry Morales. Robb Quinlan singled, but was thrown out at second by Kosuke Fukudome, while trying to stretch his hit. Zambrano walked the next batter and one out later, served up a three-run homer to Dee Brown. It was the only pitch he regretted.
"I just made one mistake," Zambrano said. "I've been saying this forever, when you make a mistake, one hitter can do damage and that's what happened. Otherwise, I threw the ball good and my command was good. So far in Spring Training, I'm really happy with my command."
It's been a relatively quiet spring for Zambrano, who did make sure that his orange and chrome-wheeled ATV was on the truck carrying players' gear headed for Chicago. He's constantly teasing Fukudome, but it's all in good fun. There's no contract matters to settle after getting a five-year, $91.5 million deal last August.
"I feel there's less pressure," he said. "I'm free. I feel I don't have to worry about anything else. Just pitch and do my job. That's what they pay me for."
The Cubs are bringing back the blue jerseys for select games during the season, and Zambrano has made it no secret that he prefers the alternate top. What will he wear on Opening Day?
"Whatever the president says, whatever the [general manager] says," Zambrano said. "I have to wear whatever they say. I think it'll be white, because it's Opening Day."
It won't be as warm as it was on Wednesday in Tempe. The forecast for Monday in Chicago calls for temperatures in the mid 40s.
"I will wear long sleeves," Zambrano said. "I'll warm up pretty good and go out there to fight."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.