Zambrano apologizes after criticizing Cubs fans for booing him

Updated: September 4, 2007, 8:37 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano apologized to Chicago Cubs fans Tuesday, one day after he criticized them for booing him following another poor performance.

Carlos Zambrano

Zambrano

Starting Pitcher
Chicago Cubs

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
29 14 12 87 155 4.35

The Cubs' ace, who recently signed a $91.5 million contract and is winless since July 29, said his apology came from his heart. He said he was sorry during a news briefing after he'd met earlier with team president John McDonough and general manager Jim Hendry.

"I'm a grown man. I know when I make a mistake. I know what I'm doing. I know when I have to come to whoever I offended. I don't think somebody has to tell me what to do," Zambrano said.

"I'm sure he went to bed last night feeling bad and I'm sure he woke up this morning feeling worse," Hendry said.

"Nobody made him say anything or told him he had to do something. He knew he made a mistake and I think he's very disappointed in himself. He puts a lot on himself to try to help us win."

Zambrano was rocked for eight runs, seven hits and walked five in 4 1/3 innings. And he also ran through third base coach Mike Quade's stop sign and was tagged out easily during an 11-3 rout Monday.

Zambrano has a 9.56 ERA in three starts since Aug. 17, when the Cubs gave him a $91.5 million, five-year contract extension through 2012, and he is 0-5 with an 8.29 ERA in six starts since beating Cincinnati on July 29.

As he left the game Monday and walked to the dugout in the fifth inning, Zambrano pointed to his head to tell the fans he heard them.

"I will remember that," Zambrano said of the fan reaction. "I don't want to stink and [have] bad outings. I know the great moment of my career will come."

"I don't understand why the fans were booing at me. I can't understand that," Zambrano said. "I thought these were the greatest fans in baseball. They showed me today they just care about them. That's no fair. Because when you are struggling, that's when you want to feel the support of the fans."

But Zambrano had a different view on Tuesday.

"I love the Cubs fans. I still think they are still the greatest fans of baseball," he said. "They have the right to boo people, do whatever they have to do because they have been waiting for 99 years. Sometimes we don't do a good job and they get frustrated, too. I apologize to them."

Zambrano has promised to stop wasting some of his emotional energy. He drew a stare from Milwaukee star Prince Fielder recently when he went into a fist-pumping celebratory display after a first-inning strikeout.

Earlier this season he got into a dugout altercation with catcher Michael Barrett that carried over into the clubhouse, where Barrett got a black eye and needed stitches in his lip.

Zambrano's also broken a bat over his knee in anger and slammed his helmet down so hard after being thrown out at first that it bounced all the way into right field.

Now, he's joined a fraternity -- Cubs players who've been booed at Wrigley Field.

"I think I reacted to something that people did to me. That's just reaction," he said.

"It's not that I have to be in control of my emotions. I know what I can control and know what I can't. I reacted to something I've never seen before. It was overwhelming."

Manager Lou Piniella, who's been know to have an emotional outburst or two during his long career as a player and manager, said he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild would meet with the big right-hander and try to get him pitching like he was in June and July, when he won 9 of 11.

"He's a good kid, he really is. A good young man, he doesn't mean any harm," Piniella aid.

"He and I probably have a lot of in common because I've stuck my foot in my mouth a lot of times, too. As I've gotten older, I've gotten a little wiser. And you make mistakes in life and when you make mistakes, you're a man and you apologize like he did. And that's it."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE