Big Z comes up empty against softball pitcher

Big Z comes up empty against softball pitcher

CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano never passes up a chance to hit, and on Friday, he took a few swings against Monica Abbott, pitcher for the pro Bandits softball team. Did he get a hit?

"Of course not," Abbott said.

Friday was Big Z Foundation Day at Wrigley Field, and Abbott and her Bandits teammates were there to take part in the pregame festivities. Zambrano's foundation was created to help underprivileged children and families in the Chicago area as well as developing countries. Fans attending the Cubs-Reds game could purchase a T-shirt for a $15 donation and get information on his efforts.

Zambrano recently threw out a first pitch at a Bandits game. It was time to return the favor.

"A lot of the Major League players follow the softball teams," Abbott said. "We're sister-brother sports."

But apparently, Abbott ratcheted up the friendship by challenging Zambrano. So, Friday, he stepped in during early batting practice.

"I was supposed to do a [ceremonial] first pitch," Abbott said, "and I was talking smack through Twitter [about facing him]. You have to build it up a little bit."

Zambrano, who holds the Cubs' all-time record for most home runs by a pitcher, of course took her up on the challenge. Marlon Byrd also stepped in against Abbott and grounded out.

"'Z' said he could hit it," Abbott said. "Now, he owes me dinner."

The Big Z Foundation will also host a golf tournament Nov. 4-6 in Antigua, Guatemala.