Chicago Cubs: Fan favorite Zambrano to attempt Major League comeback

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos “Big Z” Zambrano announced last Monday that he is attempting an MLB comeback. Umpires and Gatorade coolers, beware.

With the Chicago Cubs‘ tumultuous up-and-down start creating uneasiness for some Cubs fans, allow me to turn your attention to another storyline. On the heels of Tiger Woods completing possibly the best comeback in sports history by winning his fifth Masters, another comeback story is born.

Or so we hope.

Last Monday, Carlos Zambrano signed a contract to pitch for the Chicago Dogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. It will be the former Cub’s first time pitching in the United States since 2013.

Zambrano, who turns 38 in June, doesn’t just have his eyes set on success in independent ball, though. Rather, he believes that he is destined to return to the Majors as a relief pitcher, though his last Major league appearance occurred with the Miami Marlins in September of 2012.

Though a comeback at his age after seven years of retirement seems unlikely, Zambrano’s reasoning is more than a mere whim. He claims that over a span of a few months in 2017 and 2018, four pastors from several countries told him that it is God’s will that he make a committed return to baseball.

After hearing his apparent calling, Zambrano came out of retirement to pitch for the Leones de Yucatán of the Mexican League in July 2018. After 7 starts of 5.18 ERA pitching, he was released the next month. During that short stretch, Zambrano’s fastball topped out at 89 mph.

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However, during a brief relief stint with the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League, Zambrano posted a 3.72 ERA over 9.2 innings pitched. More importantly, his fastball velocity reached 94 mph. According to FanGraphs, Zambrano’s highest average fastball velocity during any season of his MLB career was 92.8 mph.

As for the thing that Zambrano is most remembered for, his fiery personality (which on multiple occasions famously got the best of him), Big Z had this to say in a Chicago Tribune interview when asked if he was most remembered for his antics:

"“Why remember things that are in the past? … We all make mistakes. We’re all are human, and I know I made mistakes. But I don’t want to be remembered as a hothead. I want to be remembered as a guy who wants to win and help his team.”"

I’ll believe in this change when I see no reaction from Zambrano when an umpire calls a ball on him on a 3-2 borderline pitch with runners in scoring position and two outs.

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Let’s be real – it isn’t likely that we will see Zambrano in a Major League uniform again. Comebacks for 38-year-old pitchers who have been out of the Majors for seven years just aren’t that realistic. But here’s to hoping that we can see another umpire “tossed” and another Gatorade cooler destroyed at the hands of Big Z.