Big Z wants to start Cubs' opener if asked

Big Z wants to start Cubs' opener if asked

Big Z wants to start Cubs' opener if asked
MESA, Ariz. -- Either Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza will be the Cubs' Opening Day pitcher. Zambrano has started six in a row. Would he like the assignment on April 1 at Wrigley Field?

"Talk to Mike," Zambrano said Monday of Cubs manager Mike Quade. "He's the manager. I know I finished strong last year, but there are two more quality pitchers who can be the Opening Day guy, and I'm OK with that.

"Of course, I want to be the Opening Day guy, I want to open the season for the Cubs, but the season is in Mike's hands," Zambrano said. "If he decides to go with Dempster or Garza -- the thing is it's about feeling good and helping each other. I'm excited for those two guys and [Carlos] Silva and [Randy] Wells and whoever is in the rotation and that we can do the job and we can cause some damage in the big leagues."

Dempster said he'll defer to Quade, as will Garza.

"To me, it's just another day," Garza said Monday. "The way I see it, you've got five guys every day throwing as the No. 1 out there. On that day, nobody is better than that guy. To me it's really not a big deal. I feel it's an earned right. I don't know if I'm at that spot yet. If he feels that, so be it. I'm here to follow their lead."

Quade said he'll "milk" the decision for as long as he can.

"I want all three of them to want it and I'm happy with guys comfortable with whatever we decide," he said. "My decision will be based on looking at those three guys who we talked about and where they're at and what we see this spring. I'm glad Carlos wants it. That's great. Time will tell."

The focus for Zambrano this year will be whether he stays out of trouble. He was suspended following his dugout tantrum in late June and placed on the restricted list to undergo anger management therapy. He doesn't want to talk about what happened in 2010, including his strong 8-0 finish in his last 11 starts.

"I don't want to talk this year, I don't want to say anything this year," Zambrano said. "I just want to talk with my numbers, that's what I want to do."

So, does he have anything to prove?

"No, no, no, I leave that for rookies," Zambrano said, smiling. "They need to show they can pitch in the big leagues. I don't need to do that. I just want to stay healthy and try to do my job and start the season good. That's all I want."