By Matt Abbatacola–
CHICAGO (CBS) Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry spoke to reporters before game one of the Crosstown Classic at Wrigley Field.
“We’re going to put Z on the DL,” Hendry said. “Really not a major thing. He could probably almost for certain pitch before the break. He could pitch by Friday in Pittsburgh by the latest if we wanted to. He’s had these issues before. He got an epidermal this morning which would prohibit him pitching Tuesday.”
“His history in his past when he’s had this – once it’s fixed, he’s been strong the rest of the year. It was done in mind for his own good,” added Hendry.
Zambrano left in the second inning of his start against San Francisco on Thursday’s game at Wrigley. He threw just 34 pitches.
Hendry was asked about Zambrano attending the Chicago Bandits softball game on Thursday evening where he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“Honestly, it’s really one of the biggest to-dos about nothing in his long history. As I told many of you before the game – before the BP went on – we certainly have all had turns of being disgruntled with Carlos at times and he would be the first to admit that maybe some of it rightfully so. This is really a big to-do about nothing. I mean there is such a huge difference between showing up at a charity event that you committed to that fans paid to see and meet him than pitching in a major league game. I mean I find it almost sad that this would be a big story in a negative way. I would have been disappointed if he didn’t show up. To me, that’s really sad.”
I was extremely disappointed by Jim Hendry’s response.
No one said nor thinks that pitching in a major league game is even close to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a woman’s softball game. I watched the video of Zambrano throwing the pitch at the Bandits’ game. He didn’t throw it too hard – he wasn’t going to injury himself any further. Overall, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
What Hendry and the Cubs for that matter fail to understand is how it appeared to the fans.
The fans paid money and invested their time to go to Wrigley Field on Thursday and watch Zambrano pitch. He left the game early with an injury – it happens. There isn’t one fan that could be angry about that. In the press box, we learned and then eventually the fans, that the injury was back related – something Zambrano has dealt with in his career.
Then came Zambrano’s 35th pitch of the day – at the Chicago Bandits’ softball game.
No one in their right mind would expect or ask Zambrano to be “bedridden” after suffering a back injury as manager, Mike Quade, quipped during his pre-game gab fest with the media. If Zambrano had a commitment to appear at the softball game for charity, then he certainly should have gone if he was physically able to go. He should have been there to meet the fans and sign autographs for all the kids. He should have been there to enjoy a cold beer and a hot dog. He should have been there to watch the game and exceed the charitable requirements of his planned visit.
He shouldn’t have thrown out the first pitch.
The reason – the fans.
The entire organization, from Tom Ricketts down to the 25th man on the roster, has an obligation to the fans to show that the most important goal of this franchise is winning baseball games and eventually, winning the World Series.
Here’s what the Cubs’ fan consumed starting Thursday at about 1:45pm :
1. Zambrano left the game with an injury
2. Zambrano has a back injury
3. Zambrano THREW out the first pitch at a Chicago Bandits’ softball game
4. Zambrano was placed on the disabled list
From a physical standpoint, it wasn’t a big deal that Zambrano threw out the first pitch. From a PR standpoint, it was a huge mistake.
A huge mistake for a team that now has sent a 4th member of it’s opening day rotation to the DL. The mistake was compounded by it’s general manager who so strongly downplayed the situation that he came across as arrogant.
“I mean I find it almost sad that this would be a big story in a negative way. I would have been disappointed if he didn’t show up. To me, that’s really sad.”
No, Jim – what’s disappointing is that Zambrano won’t show up to pitch on Tuesday in Washington or Sunday, the 10th, in Pittsburgh – that’s really sad.