Big Z apologizes to Cubs fans in return to Wrigley

Big Z apologizes to Cubs fans in return to Wrigley

CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano made it a point to let Cubs fans know he's sorry for any troubles late in his 11-year stint in Chicago. The former Cubs starter described his return to Wrigley Field in the opposing team's dugout on Tuesday as both weird and emotional.

"I still love these fans," Zambrano said. "Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience and anything that I did. The only thing that I wanted to do in Chicago is win, and I really apologize to the Cubs fans and the people here who treated me good."

Zambrano made three All-Star appearances with the Cubs before outbursts, frustrations and a 4.82 ERA last year resulted in his trade to the Marlins in the offseason. He described his final 2 1/2 seasons as out of control, and he wants to move forward with his career and remember his first 8 1/2 years with the Cubs.

Zambrano, who still has a house in Chicago, said his emotions reached a peak when he hit the intersection at Addison Street and Clark Street and could see Wrigley Field in view before Tuesday's series opener. He's not going to pitch in the three-game series this week after starting and earning the win over the Nationals in Miami on Monday.

"To be honest, I didn't want to pitch here," Zambrano said. "Not this year. I just didn't want to pitch here. The time will come that I can come back here."

He said he misses the city of Chicago, where Cubs fans still greet him with mostly positive reactions on the street.

"They said, 'Too bad you left. We miss you, Z,'" Zambrano said. "A lot of people. And I appreciate that from the fans. There's some people there that still don't like me, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Zambrano said his relationships with former teammates are just as strong.

"I think they treat me with respect, professionally, and every time I see them, I hug them or I say hi to them," Zambrano said. "There's no hard feelings, believe me."

"The problem wasn't with them. The problem was not with the Cubs. The problem was Carlos Zambrano. That's why Carlos Zambrano is now with the Miami Marlins. If you have to blame somebody, blame me. Things didn't work out the last three years because of me. That's all I can say. I am responsible for my acts."

He credits his relationship with God to allow him to focus and continue his career. The 31-year-old starter once debated retirement.

The now calmer Zambrano had his low moments with the Cubs, but Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said people should also remember his earlier years.

"Off the field, he's been great," Guillen said. "Sometimes, I want him to go back to being Zambrano, sometimes. But he's doing what I predicted. Don't forget about what Zambrano did. That guy almost won the Cy Young Award here."