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Zambrano isn't here to talk about the past

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Zambrano isn't here to talk about the past

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Posted 12:24 AM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Carlos Zambrano has studied film of the pitcher he used to be, when he made All-Star teams and earned that 91.5 million contract. He says he has a good idea of what he needs to do to be that player again.

There are mechanical adjustments to maintain and ways to offset his declining velocity as he approaches his 30th birthday. But the rest of it, the psychoanalysis and public introspection on command, well, Zambrano doesnt have much use for that.

Like when a television reporter asks about his personal ups and downs last season.

Lets talk about this year, Zambrano said, turning his head to the next question. Im ready for this season and Im excited for this season.

In a sense, this entire organization cant distance itself from 2010 fast enough. Forbes had the Cubs as the industrys least-efficient team last season, shelling out around 145 million to win 75 games, and spending not a single moment above .500. That undercut the Ricketts family and their market-based approach.

As the Cubs Convention opened Friday at the Hilton Chicago, chairman Tom Ricketts said organizations wins championships. There were boos for team president Crane Kenney and general manager Jim Hendry. There was a fan wearing a Ryne Sandberg jersey, but no Ryne Sandberg.

WATCH: Jim Hendry appreciative, optimistic

The video looking back on 2010 featured a touching tribute to the late Ron Santo. With the lights dimmed inside a packed hotel ballroom, Lou Piniella didnt appear once on the big screen.

Manager Mike Quade received a warm reception from the crowd when he walked out on the balcony, but the loudest cheers were saved for Kerry Wood. Between Wood, Carlos Pena and Matt Garza, the Cubs will have a new clubhouse dynamic, and its hard to argue they didnt need that.

Jim Hendry got the entire package. He got great teammates, guys that can play and know how to win, outfielder Marlon Byrd said. Everybody knows how competitive it is over there (in the American League East). They know about the pressure and they know what it takes to get over the hump.

Most of all they have survival instincts. Wood reinvented himself as a reliever after his body nearly broke down. Pena was released by two different teams in 2006. Garza is already on his third team and he hasnt turned 28 yet.

The question is whether Zambrano, who has grown his hair out into tight curls, has found something lasting and can build off his last 11 starts (8-0, 1.41 ERA).

Hendry helped negotiate the settlement that put Zambrano in anger-management counseling last summer. The general manager called Zambranos mistakes easily correctable.

Before you laugh at that quote, you should know that Zambrano does have a pretty good sense of humor. He is devoted to his family and his charities. And he has so much natural ability.

I dont see why theres any reason that he cant continue and be that successful, Hendry said. Hes no different than anybody else. He certainly has learned from some of his mistakes, like we all should in life. I feel in my chats with him (during) the offseason that he seems to have a good handle.

Sometimes you walk that fine line when guys thrive on emotion sometimes (they) have a few bad situations because of (that). But I find him to be in a real good place.

For now Zambrano said hes cool with whoever Quade decides to start on Opening Day, and reaffirmed how much he wants to stay in Chicago (no matter how many rumors ignore his no-trade clause and put him on the Yankees).

So its going to be Zambrano and Garza, two intense pitchers getting after it, and that will be something to look forward to, whether or not everything goes as the Cubs hope.

Hes a grown man. He has to calm himself down and I have to calm myself, Zambrano said. But that same emotion, the same passion for the game nobody will take that away from (us).

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

What Jose Quintana's injury says about precarious nature of this MLB season

What Jose Quintana's injury says about precarious nature of this MLB season

One more injury or a positive COVID-19 test within the starting rotation, and the Cubs will be in trouble.

Jose Quintana’s thumb injury, which is expected to keep him from throwing for two weeks, called to attention just how precarious the future of every team is this season.

"We had some concerns about our starting pitching depth,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday. “A freak injury further challenges us in that area, and we have to respond."

 

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Starting pitching is a particularly vulnerable area in general. COVID-19 can affect anyone, even a team’s ace. More reports of positive COVID-19 tests are bound to trickle out now that teams are beginning workouts Friday. And with a three-week Summer Camp expediting the ramp-up process, risk of soft-tissue injury becomes a concern for pitchers in particular.

Add into the mix a microscopic surgery on a lacerated nerve in Quintana’s left thumb – the Cubs announced on Thursday that he suffered the injury while washing dishes – and the Cubs are beginning Summer Camp already shorthanded.

“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” Epstein said. “This this is a bump in the road that we just have to overcome.”

The baseball season could be cancelled for any number of reasons, safety as judged by the league and government officials being the most important. But MLB also has the power to suspend or cancel the season if the competitive integrity of the season is undermined.

What that means isn’t for Epstein to decide, but he declined to give an opinion on the topic Thursday.

“My understanding of what the standards would be don’t necessarily matter,” Epstein said. “It’s a question for the league. I hope we never get in that situation.”

Injuries always have the power to alter a season. But that’s even more so the case during a 60-game season. At best, Quintana’s injury could delay him a several weeks. At worst, even just a three-month recovery time would wipe out his entire season.

For now, the plan is to replace Quintana with someone like Alec Mills. Assuming Mills does win the starting job, that takes him out of his role as a middle reliever, a bullpen spot Cubs manager David Ross emphasized earlier in the week.

“It’ll be really unrealistic to expect guys to get to maybe 100 or so pitches right out of the shoot,” Ross said on Monday. “That may be a bit of a challenge. … The real important areas for me right now is that swingman, your Alec Mills-types that can give you two or three innings ang get to the back end of the bullpen. Those middle innings if guys aren’t stretched out enough are going to be vitally important.”

The ripple effects from Quintana’s injury aren’t nearly enough to undermine the competitive integrity of the season. But what if several teams have their starting pitching depth dramatically affected by COVID-19? What if those teams include the Dodgers and the Yankees?

Now that MLB has started ramping up for the 2020 season, it’s incentivized to keep the season running. But as the Cubs learned this week, just one dish-washing accident can alter a team’s 2020 outlook.

 

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2020 MLB season: All-Star game canceled, Dodgers awarded 2022 game

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USA TODAY

2020 MLB season: All-Star game canceled, Dodgers awarded 2022 game

Major League Baseball announced Friday they've canceled the 2020 All Star Game, which was scheduled for July 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

The Braves are scheduled to host the 2021 Midsummer Classic, so MLB awarded the Dodgers the 2022 game.

"Based on the health circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic that are beyond MLB’s control along with governmental directives prohibiting large gatherings, the league determined it is unable to conduct the All-Star Game and its week of surrounding fan activities this year," MLB said in a statement.

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“Once it became clear we were unable to hold this year’s All-Star festivities, we wanted to award the Dodgers with the next available All-Star Game, which is 2022,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.  “I want to thank the Dodgers organization and the City of Los Angeles for being collaborative partners in the early stages of All-Star preparation and for being patient and understanding in navigating the uncertainty created by the pandemic.  

"The 2022 All-Star celebration promises to be a memorable one with events throughout the city and at picturesque Dodger Stadium.”

California has seen a 92 percent increase in COVID-19 cases this week compared to two weeks ago.

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