05/28/09 2:09 PM ET
Zambrano loses his cool after ejection
Big Z argues theatrically after run scores on wild pitch
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Carlos Zambrano attacked it with a bat on Wednesday after he was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing a close play at the plate with home-plate umpire Mark Carlson in the Cubs' 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"That was pretty impressive," Chicago's Milton Bradley said of Zambrano's animated antics. "That was on a Bradley level."
The incident is under review, MLB vice president of public relations Pat Courtney told ESPNChicago.com on Thursday. He said he did not know when a ruling might be handed down.
Trailing, 2-1, in the Pittsburgh seventh, the Pirates' Nyjer Morgan reached third base after he singled and advanced on an error by left fielder Alfonso Soriano. One out later, during Nate McLouth's at-bat, Zambrano threw a wild pitch on an 0-1 count, and Morgan scampered home.
Cubs catcher Geovany Soto flipped the ball to Zambrano, covering at the plate, but Morgan appeared to sneak his left hand in. Carlson called Morgan safe, but Zambrano disagreed. The pitcher and umpire went nose to nose, and they briefly bumped. Carlson tossed Zambrano, and Zambrano did the same, signaling that the umpire was ejected.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild ran onto the field, but too late. Zambrano hurled the baseball into left-center field, and then threw his glove as he stalked off the field.
"I was kind of disappointed," Chicago's Reed Johnson said of Zambrano's heave to the outfield. "I thought it was going to go up into the stands, but the wind was blowing in today."
The game was then tied at 2, and Zambrano missed in his second bid for his 100th career win. He took a bat to the orange dispenser in the dugout that Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster had punched with his left hand on Monday.
"In Spring Training, [athletic trainer] Mark O'Neal told me he didn't know how long it was going to last," Bradley said. "I said I guarantee I'm not going to be the one to break it, and I was right."
It's been a wild season for the Cubs. Bradley was ejected April 16 after his first plate appearance at Wrigley Field when he was called out on strikes. Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly was tossed Monday after arguing with then home-plate umpire Bob Davidson about concentrating. That's when Dempster knocked the cover off the dispenser.
"That Gatorade thing keeps taking a beating," said Johnson, who hit a tie-breaking solo homer in the eighth on Wednesday. "We'll get some bandaids on it tomorrow."
Piniella, who knows a thing or two about umpires, planned on talking to Zambrano on Thursday.
"I'm the only calm, cool and collected one around here, it seems -- I'm just kidding," Piniella said. "[Zambrano] cares, but, look, you can argue a little bit, get your point across to the umpire that he thought the runner was out, but get back there and pitch and finish the inning and give yourself a chance to get the win. It didn't happen. Now we'll see what the outcome is."
Zambrano, obviously, thought Morgan was out.
"I over-exaggerated after that play and threw the ball and did the other things," Zambrano said. "Hopefully, [Major League Baseball] reviews the play and we'll see what happens."
Did he make contact with Carlson?
"Like I said, hopefully, [Major League Baseball] sees the replay," Zambrano said. "I never saw the replay. After that play, I came in and put ice on my arm and kept watching the game."
What about his "ejection" of Carlson?
"I didn't say any bad words," Zambrano said. "Like I said, it's his call to call safe or out or to throw me out. There's nothing I can do after the call."
"They've got to review it," Piniella said. "If you look at the film, the umpire sort of walks in a little bit, but the league makes that determination. You've got to be more careful than that. You can argue the point that the baserunner was out, but go back and pitch."
Zambrano felt he had blocked the plate, saying Morgan never touched it. Morgan disagreed.
"I was safe," Morgan said. "I was in there way before the ball got there."
Zambrano has tried to keep his emotions in check.
"He's an animated guy," Soto said. "He wants to be the best and gives you 110 percent. He wants to win. Unfortunately, he got tossed out. It shows you how much he cares about winning and doing good and competing.
"You don't want to take his passion away and make him a different guy. You want him to be animated. That's the way he is. It happens. That's baseball."
Still, Piniella will sit down with the right-hander before Thursday's game. He'll have to try not to laugh. Zambrano, who turns 28 on June 1, can be entertaining, but the Cubs want him to focus his energy on the mound.
"He's got good stuff," Piniella said. "The last two starts, his command has been erratic but his stuff has been really good. There's no need for the other things, let's be perfectly clear. You can have your say and then go back out there and put your concentration cap back on and get two more hitters and give yourself a chance to win the baseball game."
This was Zambrano's second start since coming off the disabled list. He gave up seven hits, including a two-out RBI single by Ramon Vazquez in the Pirates' fourth. His next scheduled start is June 2 in Atlanta.
Zambrano has been suspended twice in his career. In August 2002, he served a five-game suspension for his actions during a bench-clearing incident in a June game that season with Triple-A Iowa. In 2004, he was suspended five games after hitting Jim Edmonds with a pitch when both benches had been warned. Nearly two years ago to the day, Zambrano and then Cubs catcher Michael Barrett fought in the dugout.
Zambrano had struck out six in Wednesday's game and escaped a bases-loaded one-out jam in the second and another mess in the fifth. He is passionate.
"I could tell before the game started he was focused and determined to put zeros on the board," Bradley said of Zambrano. "It was a close play. I'm surprised the guy even went, but the only guy who could score on that play was Nyjer Morgan."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.