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'New' Zambrano plays it cool

3/28/2011

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Once again, Carlos Zambrano had a reason to gripe as his defense let him down on more than one occasion in his final spring tuneup on Monday.

However, the new and improved Zambrano kept his cool and pitched through the mistake.

“I can only worry about what I can do in that little circle,” Zambrano said after the Cubs’ 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. “My job is -- pitch, not to criticize. There’s nothing I can do when people don’t execute double plays or make plays. My job is to pitch.”

Zambrano walked five batters in five innings in his last Cactus League game. The veteran pitcher attributed the walks to good ball movement.

“It was moving a lot,” Zambrano said. “But at the same timem I was able to command my pitches when I had to.”

Zambrano was sorry to see his countryman and friend Carlos Silva get released on Sunday.

“I was sad,” Zambrano said. “He was sad, too. He didn’t want to talk about much. I just gave him some good words. I [told] him to be confident that he’ll get another job. I wish him the best. We will keep in touch.”

Zambrano didn’t want to talk about Silva’s criticisms of pitching coach Mark Riggins and the Cubs organization.

“I have no comment about that,” Zambrano said. “What can I say about it?”

Ryan Dempster will pitch on Opening Day this Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the first time in seven years that Zambrano isn’t the Cubs’ Opening Day starter.

“I had my chance,” Zambrano said. “Now it’s Dempster’s chance and he deserves it. It doesn’t matter. Dempster was pitching the last two years [at] No. 2, he did a good job. It’s just about doing a good job. It’s not about which guy or what number you are in the rotation.”

Zambrano pitched the last six opening days, following Kerry Wood, who got the nod in 2003 and 2004.