When Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella yanked Carlos Zambrano from yesterday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Zambrano was visibly frustrated with the decision.
Zambrano had pitched six effective innings, and is still only a few starts removed from the disabled list, so the move to pull him a bit earlier than was maybe necessary was understandable. And eventually, Zambrano understood.
At least that’s what they said after manager Lou Piniella and Carlos Zambrano put the lasting visual bow on the Cubs’ two-city road trip with an animated, televised discussion on the mound that continued into the dugout after a seventh-inning pitching change Wednesday at PNC Park.
“I bet you asked him the same question because you saw the replay and everybody thought we were arguing,’’ said Zambrano, who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-5 for his first win since July 22.
“But we weren’t. We were just talking normally. But every time Lou talks, it seems like he’s mad. The way he moves his hands, everybody thinks he’s mad, but he’s not.’’ CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
Lou used to be mad when everyone thought he was mad. I guess that changes with age.
The apparent tiff started when Piniella sent Zambrano to the mound in the bottom of the seventh until the Pirates committed to a pinch-hitter in the No. 9 spot leading off the inning.
Then he went to take the ball from Zambrano, who muttered on his way off the mound and continued to jaw in the dugout with Piniella, who gestured vigorously as he talked.
“He wanted to stay in a little longer,’’ Piniella said. “But like I told him, ‘Let’s just build. Let’s get you stronger and stronger.’
“I told him, ‘The next time, if you want, I won’t warm anybody up, and we’ll let you pitch nine innings.’ I don’t think he liked that one.’’
Piniella laughed when he said that.
Yes, we all laugh on that one. Allowing Zambrano to throw 200 pitches to complete a game is something Big Z would absolutely want. So we laugh. With a little bit of nervousness.
Piniella’s attitude with respect to Zambrano’s strength and health is clearly the right one, but it is a little funny that he continues to speak about it as though the Cubs are somehow saving Zambrano for the playoffs.