Cubs visit the Reds on Opening Day

Cubs visit the Reds on Opening Day

So, at whom will Carlos Zambrano direct his anger on Opening Day?

The Chicago Cubs right-hander can be playful and romp through the clubhouse like a sugar-loaded 2 year old. When he's on the mound, he's incredibly competitive. Nasty even. He's discovered an interesting technique to motivate him before starts.

"I try to get mad at somebody at my house so I can go to the game mad," Zambrano said.

Not sure who will be his target on Monday when the Cubs begin the season at Great American Ball Park against the Cincinnati Reds. Zambrano's family is aware of his mood swings.

"When I go to pitch," Zambrano said, "somebody has to pay."

Last year on Opening Day against Arizona, the right-hander was ejected as he left the field, and told umpire Dale Scott that he "needed glasses."

"It's a situation where [his emotions] are his best friend and also could be his nemesis at the same time," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of Zambrano. "This is what drives him and motivates him. On the other hand, it's destructive, not only to him but possibly to a teammate at some time."

Zambrano often acts as if he's angry at his teammates. The reality is that he's mad at himself.

"If I hurt somebody's feelings, I go right to them and talk to them and explain what happens," Zambrano said. "Sometimes I'm mad at myself because I left a pitch in the middle. When I make that mistake, it's frustrating for me. I have to think about what I did wrong and go to the next step."

Zambrano was 14-6 with a 3.26 ERA last season and has never posted an ERA above 4.00 in his young career. He's made it no secret he wants to win the Cy Young award. He has to stay on the mound to do so.

"I've always been like that," Zambrano said of his animated style. "But there are times when you have to sit down and think about what you're doing in the game. You have to win as many games as possible to help your team."

He says he's learned from Opening Day 2005. He also was ejected on April 26 against Cincinnati after hitting Austin Kearns with a pitch after both benches were warned.

"My crazy times are over," Zambrano said. "That's when I was a rookie. I've got seven years in the big leagues. I think some hitters say, 'Oh, Zambrano is crazy.' I used to be. Now I try to pitch my game and do my best to help this team."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Aaron Harang
• 11-13, 3.83 ERA in 2005
• 3-0, 3.68 ERA in 2005 vs. CHC
• 4-0, 3.99 ERA lifetime vs. CHC

CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano
•14-6, 3.26 ERA in 2005
• 0-0, 7.59 ERA in 2005 vs. CIN
• 5-3, 2.33 ERA lifetime vs. CIN

  Cubs probable lineup
1.CFJuan Pierre
2.2BJerry Hairston Jr.
3.1BDerrek Lee
4.3BAramis Ramirez
5.RFJacque Jones
6.CMichael Barrett
7.LFMatt Murton
8.SSRonny Cedeno
9.PCarlos Zambrano

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television

On radio

On deck
• Wednesday: Cubs at Reds, 11:35 a.m. CT
• Friday: Cardinals at Cubs, 1:20 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Cardinals at Cubs, 1:20 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Cardinals at Cubs, 7:05 p.m. CT

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.