"I was a water cooler guy," he said. "I enjoyed the water cooler more than the gum basket. I wasn't messy."
Zambrano has tried to tone down his gyrations. It's just Zambrano being Zambrano. Piniella said he isn't going to try and change the right-hander.
"I like people who show their emotions, I really do," Piniella said. "You either care or you don't care. He shows he cares."
There have been times when the Cubs' catchers have to tell the umpires that Zambrano is simply frustrated with himself, not at them.
"As long as it doesn't detract from his performance and he doesn't get hurt from it, it doesn't bother me in the least," Piniella said. "The sad part about it is you look at these Major League dugouts and there are no more water coolers. Now you have to tussle with the Gatorade. I enjoyed the water cooler."
Piniella, who isn't afraid to show his emotions, either, said he had to pay for any water coolers that he broke. He'd write a check, usually around $250, to pay for a new one. In his career, he estimated he's busted about four or five.
"I used to have [the broken ones] sent to my house -- if I paid for them, I wanted it in my garage," he said.
Water coolers are safe. Piniella said he's done busting things up.
"I don't have the energy nor the disposition to do that anymore," he said. "When I played, I did."
The broken water coolers are gone now from his garage. Imagine what a sports collector would pay for something like that.
"I wish I had kept them -- I'd be selling them on eBay," Piniella said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.