The fans booed loud and long Monday when Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano was pulled from the game, an 11-3 Chicago loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After the game, Zambrano criticized the fans, and on Tuesday, he apologized for his comments.
"I think Carlos is very sincere," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's a very emotional guy and obviously very well-loved by the fans here. They're certainly a reason he wanted to stay here in Chicago.
"Unfortunately, he let his frustrations and lack of success yesterday get in the way of better judgement."
The incident is not expected to be a distraction. Many of the players didn't know about Zambrano's comments.
"In his defense, there's not another pitcher who plays the game as hard as he does," Chicago infielder Ryan Theriot said. "Being a guy who goes up there and gives max effort, sometimes you give too much. I'd rather see that max effort every day like he gives and make one or two mistakes than not give it."
Theriot ran through a stop sign earlier this year, which Zambrano also did Monday. It happens.
"It's an instinct," Theriot said. "As a baserunner, you have a better feel for what's going on than the third-base coach. It happens. People run through stop signs all the time."
It wasn't the only mistake Zambrano made for the day. Will the fans forgive him?
"I hope so," Piniella said. "He's a good kid. He's a good young man and doesn't mean any harm. He and I probably have a lot in common because I've stuck my foot in my mouth a lot of times, too.
"As I've gotten older, I've gotten a little wiser, and you make mistakes in life. When you make mistakes, you're a man and you apologize like he did."
The fans have the right do whatever they want, Chicago's Derrek Lee said.
"I think the only reason you should get booed is from a lack of effort, and we know that's not the case with Carlos," Lee said.
That said, Lee would prefer to see more support than negativity.
"I think if you want your team to win, the best way to do that is show them you support them," he said. "We can't let it affect us. It's part of the atmosphere. You just hope the fans enjoy the game, and you focus on what you need to do."
Life's lessons: Infielder Eric Patterson was optioned to Double-A Tennessee because he was late reporting to the ballpark on Monday. Patterson, younger brother of former Cub Corey Patterson, was recently named to the All-Pacific Coast League team.
"Obviously, he made a mistake, and it wasn't the first time this year either here or in the system," Hendry said. "I just felt I was going to do what's best for the organization.
"He's a good young player, a good kid. He has ability and has a heck of a chance to make the ballclub next year. I didn't think it was something to be looked upon lightly. It's a privilege to be called up from the Minor League system in the middle of a pennant race."
Patterson batted .250 with a double in eight games with the Cubs.
"He's not a problem, he's not disrespectful -- he made a mistake," Hendry said.
Roster moves: The Cubs recalled left-handed pitcher Carmen Pignatiello from Triple-A Iowa and selected right-handed pitcher Kevin Hart and outfielder Sam Fuld from Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday.
"We've got enough players now," Piniella said. "Pignatiello gives us a third lefty out of the bullpen. The kid, Hart, really pitched well the second half of this year, at Double-A and Triple-A. The other young man is an outfielder, who runs the bases really well and is a good player. We'll probably use him to steal bases and maybe for defense and those sort of things."
This is Pignatiello's second turn with the big league team. When Hart and Fuld get in games, they will be making their Major League debuts.
"Fuld is a great baserunner, excellent defender, a tough kid," Hendry said. "He's a run-through-the-wall for you guy."
Fuld, 25, batted .287 at Tennessee with 50 walks and struck out 43 times.
"Never in my life did I dream it would actually happen," Fuld said. "I figured they were trying to motivate me to do well in the playoffs. I thought [manager Pat Listach] was lying to me [when he gave him the news]."
The Smokies start the playoffs Thursday, but Fuld is OK missing that. He also will be playing in the Arizona Fall League.
"I'll do whatever they ask me to do," he said.
Hart, 24, was 10-1 with a 2.80 ERA in his last 17 games. He was obtained in December 2006 in the Freddie Bynum trade.
"I was extremely surprised," Hart said of the news, delivered on the bus ride to Carolina.
"This is something you always hope for," said Hart, who has pitched for both Tennessee and Iowa. "I thought there was definitely a possibility. It's nice to be here."
Extra bases: Steve Trachsel did get new Cubs-colored shoes in time for Tuesday's start from Nike. ... Alfonso Soriano has six leadoff homers this year, and his 38 career leadoff blasts put him in fourth on baseball's all-time list. Rickey Henderson leads the field with 81. ... Scott Eyre has posted a 1.26 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 18 outings after the All-Star break. The left-hander had a 6.60 ERA before the break.
Minor matters: Joel Santo gave up four runs on seven hits over 7 2/3 innings and struck out five in Iowa's 5-4 loss to Omaha in the final game of the season Monday. The Iowa Cubs finished 10 games back of Nashville and in second place. John Nelson hit two home runs. ... Jeff Samardzija gave up four runs on eight hits over four innings in Tennessee's 4-3 loss to Carolina. The Smokies did advance to the playoffs and will open against Huntsville on Thursday. Samardzija is 3-3 with a 3.41 ERA for the Double-A team. ... Class A Daytona finished the season 57-80. ... Robert Hernandez gave up two runs on three hits and struck out six over 5 2/3 innings in Class A Peoria's 5-2 win over Cedar Rapids. ... Class A Boise moved into a first-place tie with Tri-City with a 5-3 win. Zach Ashwood gave up two runs on four hits over five innings and struck out eight.
Ryno: The Peoria Chiefs set a franchise record for single-season attendance, totaling 259,784 to break the old mark of 256,612 set in 2005. The Chiefs drew 3,800 on Monday in the final home game.
"Having Ryne Sandberg here as our manager this season was obviously a huge boost for the Chiefs and the entire Central Illinois community," said Rocky Vonachen, Chiefs president. "His presence, along with great weather all summer and outstanding effort and dedication from our entire staff made this record-setting season possible."
This was Sandberg's first season as manager, and the Chiefs finished 40-30 in the second half. Peoria ended the year in a three-way tie for the Midwest League Western Division title with Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids. But because the Chiefs have a losing record against both of those teams, they did not qualify for the playoffs.
On deck: Ted Lilly will start the third game of this four-game series against Eric Stults and the Dodgers. The Cubs left-hander is winless in his last four starts. He did not get a decision against the Dodgers on May 25, giving up five runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings in that game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.