The exit of Carlos Zambrano in an early January trade to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad was met with equal parts relief and awkward wistfulness. After quitting on the team in August, few believed he’d be able to peaceably return for the 2012 season, meetings with Theo Epstein and carefully chosen public statements notwithstanding.
So, Carlos was shipped off to play for his good friend Ozzie Guillen, and we haven’t heard much from him since.
Recently, Zambrano opened up a bit about his time in Chicago, the trade, and his future in Miami. From Carrie Muskat:
“I was very happy when I found out about [the trade],” Zambrano told reporters at the golf event. “I think it was time for a change and obviously this trade benefitted me.”
While Zambrano says he believes he could have returned to Chicago, he admits it was probably a good time for him to move on.
“I don’t think it would have been difficult,” Zambrano said about staying with the Cubs. “I’ve changed my mentality and God has helped me change a lot of things about how I am. It all depended on the work I was going to put in and the mentality I would bring back to them.”
He threw a no-hitter and several tantrums with the Cubs, but Zambrano says he has no ill feelings toward the team.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for the people of Chicago,” he said. “From the fans to the front office, I want to thank them for treating my like a professional for the past 11 years. All I have for Chicago is gratitude and respect.”
Zambrano is also grateful for what his new manager did for him. Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen lobbied to get Big Z.
“I’m very thankful that Ozzie pushed to bring me here to the Marlins,” Zambrano said. “He’s a manager that is dynamic. I am a big supporter of his mentality as a manager and I am very happy to have the opportunity to play for him on this team.”
Zambrano says that he’s in great shape and is hitting 97 mph on the gun. There were always reasons to believe, physically, that he could bounce back in 2012. But there were legitimate doubts that it could happen in Chicago.
Thus, if Zambrano does bounce back and have a great year in 2012 for the Marlins, we should probably guard ourselves against feeling like, as fans, we got screwed. Whatever Zambrano does in Miami in 2012 is not necessarily reflective of what he would have done in Chicago in 2012.
Maybe it’s just convenient logic in service of self-protection. In some ways, I suppose I hope Zambrano has a mediocre year so I won’t have to decide how I feel.