Former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano launches comeback with Chicago Dogs

MIAMI — Tiger Woods someday, Carlos Zambrano the subsequent?

‘‘Why not?’’ the burly former Cubs proper-hander stated as he mingled Monday with gamers and employees on the sector at Marlins Park earlier than the group’s recreation towards the Marlins. ‘‘Bartolo [Colon] pitched until he was forty five. I’m 37.’’

In fact, Colon by no means beat up his catcher, by no means went after his first baseman within the dugout and never ‘‘retired’’ in the midst of a recreation after getting ejected for drilling Chipper Jones with a pitch.

And Colon never went seven seasons between major-league pitches.

Ben Zobrist chats with former pitcher Carlos Zambrano earlier than the Cubs’ recreation Monday in Miami. Gordon Wittenmyer/Solar-Occasions

However as typically as previous associates discovered him on the sector for hugs and jokes about whether or not he might pitch Monday, Zambrano had an air of seriousness behind his smiles whereas he watched the Cubs take batting apply.

Perhaps because he already has a job enjoying baseball again.

Zambrano hesitated at first, then showed the e-mail from the unbiased Chicago Canine, who are based mostly in Rosemont, welcoming him to the 2019 staff.

Someday after Woods pulled off perhaps the best comeback in golf on the Masters, Zambrano landed a contract to pitch in the USA for the first time since 2013. He’ll journey to Chicago to take a physical Might 2.

And one yr after a halfhearted comeback attempt in Mexico, he additionally promises this: He’s making a critical effort this time around to see whether he could make it back as a reliever.

‘‘Now I need to play,’’ he stated. ‘‘Now I need to see what happens.’’

Why now? Why in any respect?

Zambrano actually considers it a message from God.

It began a number of years ago at a Christian youth conference in his native Venezuela.

‘‘I went to that convention, and one thing happened to me and altered my life,’’ he stated. ‘‘I had an encounter with God. I used to consider in God. And now I’m committed.’’

Then within the span of a few months in 2017 and into final yr, he stated 4 pastors from 4 churches in several elements of the world advised him independently: ‘‘God needs you to return to baseball.’’

By the point the third one stated it, he wept.

‘‘It’s onerous for me to cry, but a tear came down,’’ he stated.

He pitched in Mexico last yr, but he stated the trouble was more about ‘‘obedience to God’’ than personal conviction or passion.

Now he’s all-in, particularly after his fastball went from a Mexican League-greatest 89 mph last yr to ninety four mph during winter ball in Venezuela.

‘‘I need to see if I can throw ninety five again,’’ he stated.

Zambrano, who will turn 38 in June, can be one of the biggest stories in sports if he pulls this off. He threw his final major-league pitch on Sept. 21, 2012.

He was the most effective and most polarizing pitcher for manager Lou Piniella’s playoff teams with the Cubs in 2007-08. However his annual meltdowns ultimately overshadowed his achievements till he was suspended in 2011 for abandoning…

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