Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs raises his fist after hitting a solo home run against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
No matter what you think of Carlos Zambrano and his recent trade to the Marlins, his career has been filled with colorful and memorable moments.
Carlos Zambrano played for 11 seasons with the Chicago Cubs. That tenure, the longest for the team since Mark Grace departed -- coincidentally, after the 2000 season, just before Big Z's debut -- has apparently ended with the reports of his being dealt to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad. Z's time in Chicago has had quite a number of memorable moments, both positive and negative. It's the negative ones that led to his departure. Here is a timeline of his career highlights -- and lowlights:
August 20, 2001
Zambrano makes his major league debut by starting the second game of a doubleheader against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. He gets hit hard -- seven runs in four innings -- and gives up a home run to Kevin Brown. (No, not the pitcher -- this guy.) Zambrano becomes the first man born in the 1980s to play in MLB.
After Zambrano stabbed the ball, he pounded his chest, pumped his fists several times and seemed to shout something at Bonds before he tossed the ball into the stands above the Cubs' dugout.
Bonds was pretty sanguine about the whole affair, saying softly, "They learn respect eventually. If you want respect, you've got to give respect. He'll learn respect. I guarantee you that."
October 12, 2003
With a chance to pitch the Cubs into the World Series in Game 5 of the NLCS, Zambrano has a shaky outing and is yanked after 112 pitches in only five innings. (In fairness, it's not likely anyone was going to beat Josh Beckett that day; he threw a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts.)
July 19, 2004
Zambrano is ejected after hitting Jim Edmonds for the second time in the game; Edmonds had earlier homered and Z claims he didn't like the way Edmonds admired the home run. A five-game suspension was the result.
Zambrano hits six home runs, tying a Cubs team record set by Fergie Jenkins in 1971. In 2008 he hit .337 with an .892 OPS in 85 PA and overall has hit .241/.251/.395 in 708 PA with 23 home runs, by far the most of any active pitcher.
June 1, 2007
Z and his catcher, Michael Barrett, have words and a physical altercation in the dugout, ostensibly over Barrett's pitch selection. They also later fight in the clubhouse. Both players later apologize; Barrett is traded to the Padres three weeks later.
October 3, 2007
Z has an outstanding outing in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks -- six innings, three hits, one run, eight strikeouts. But manager Lou Piniella pulls him after only 85 pitches in a 1-1 tie for Carlos Marmol, who gave up two runs, losing the game. Piniella said he was "saving" Zambrano for Game 4, which never happened; the D'backs swept the series.
Sept. 14, 2008
Zambrano throws a no-hitter against the Astros at Miller Park in Milwaukee, where a series was moved due to Hurricane Ike. It's the only neutral-park no-hitter in MLB history. But in his next start, against the Cardinals on Sept. 19, Big Z has one of the worst outings of his career, giving up eight runs in 1.2 innings and leaving the mound before Lou could get the ball from him.
May 27, 2009
Zambrano tries to tag the Pirates' Nyjer Morgan at the plate; Morgan is called safe (replays later confirm this call). Z yells at umpire Mark Carlson, pretends to "eject" the umpire after he himself gets tossed, and before leaving the field hurls a baseball 300 feet, almost hitting the left field wall. This results in a six-game suspension.
Sept. 25, 2009
In a game some think was nearly as good as his no-hitter, Z outduels the Giants' Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park and throws a two-hit shutout (both singles) with eight strikeouts. It is the last CG shutout thrown by any Cubs pitcher for almost two years, until Randy Wells also two-hits the Giants on August 29, 2011.
June 25, 2010
After a brief early-season exile to the bullpen, Zambrano returns to the rotation in a game against the White Sox. After the first inning, he gets into a shouting match with Derrek Lee in the dugout over what he thought was Lee's failure to get a sharp grounder hit by Juan Pierre. He throws a Gatorade cooler and is taken out of the game and sent home by Piniella. Before he does so, he yells obscenities at TV crews. That night, he goes out with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen in a pre-planned dinner, creating some controversy, and later Cubs GM Jim Hendry has him placed on the restricted list and has him agree to anger management counseling. After returning to the rotation in August, he posts an 8-0 record and 1.41 ERA in 11 starts; there's some hope that he'll have a solid year in 2011.
August 12, 2011
After allowing five home runs to the Braves, including one to Chipper Jones, Zambrano throws behind Jones and is ejected. He clears out his locker at Turner Field and tells clubhouse personnel that he is "retiring". Hendry places him on the disqualified list; eventually he is sent home for the rest of the season, with pay.
And now, Carlos Zambrano will play the final year of his contract (there's an option year for 2013, but he is unlikely to do what's needed to vest that option) for the Miami Marlins. Will this timeline have more notable events added in 2012? Stay tuned. Whatever you want to say about Carlos Zambrano's career, it has never been dull.