- Big Z, El Toro
- June 1, 1981
- 6' 5"
- 260 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 8-20-2001 with CHN
- Allstar Selections:
- 2006 SS, 2008 SS, 2009 SS
In 2005, Carlos Zambrano hit .300, the leading batting average among Chicago Cubs pitchers for that year. A switch hitter, he is considered one of the best-hitting pitchers in the Major Leagues. Zambrano holds the record for most home runs hit in a season without hitting a double or triple. In 2006, he smacked six dingers but did not hit any other extra base hit.
When he made the All-Star team in 2004, he was the youngest Cubs pitcher ever to do so. He got into a dugout fight with his catcher, Michael Barrett, on May 19, 2007, that then spilled over into the clubhouse; Barrett was traded away to San Diego shortly thereafter.
He once suffered an arm injury likened to tennis elbow he attributed to spending too much time on the Internet emailing his brother.
In a game that was shifted from Houston to Milwaukee because of Hurricane Ike, he pitched a no-hitter for the Cubs against the Houston Astros on September 14, 2008 at Miller Park. It was the first modern day no-hitter on a neutral site, and the first by a Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas came within a strike of a perfect game on September 2, 1972.
Zambrano had a difficult season in 2010. He began the year in the starting rotation, but poor results had him demoted to the bullpen in May in a controversial move by manager Lou Piniella. After two weeks, he returned to the rotation and pitched a little better, but in a game against the Chicago White Sox on June 25, he threw a tamper tantrum in the dugout after the Sox scored four runs in the first inning, blaming 1B Derrek Lee for letting a double by Juan Pierre get past him. Piniella removed him from the game for his outburst, and the Cubs immediately suspended him. Three days later, they announced that he would be placed on the restricted list at least until the All-Star break while undergoing treatment for anger issues. One bright note that year was Zambrano's homering for the eighth straight season, the first pitcher to do so since Gary Peters (1963-1971). He finished the year with a very respectable record of 11-6, 3.33 in spite of all the drama.
Zambrano had another eventful season under new manager Mike Quade in 2011 as he publically called the Cubs a "AAA team" and "embarrassing". On August 12th, he had one of the worst starts of his career, facing the Atlanta Braves; he gave up a career-high five homers, including a pair by Dan Uggla which extended his hitting streak to 32 games. After giving up back-to-back shots to Uggla and Freddie Freeman with two outs in the 5th inning, he threw a pair of brushback pitches at Chipper Jones and was ejected by home plate umpire Tim Timmons. He left the game having given up 8 runs, and while his teammates were continuing to play, he cleared out his locker and walked out of the ballpark, prompting Quade to say he had quit on his teammates. There was speculation that this would be his formal retirement from baseball at age 30. The next day, the Cubs placed him on the disqualified list, suspending his pay and keeping him away from the team for the next 30 days, even if he were to change his mind.