Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Cubs [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Zambrano faces suspension

By Bruce Levine

In the case of Carlos Zambrano, he's more likely to be suspended for his actions after he and home plate umpire Mark Carlson made contact with each other in Wednesday's game. Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of discipline, has fined and suspended many players and managers for what in MLB's terminology is called "inciting the crowd."

The interpretation is that after a heated situation has peaked the player or manager does something beyond the initial incident that preceded the ejection to exacerbate the problem. In the case of Zambrano, or any other pitcher, Major League Baseball will give a certain amount of baseball days off, rather than games off, in order to cover actual missed games by a starting pitcher.

The guess here is that a 7- to 10-day suspension for Zambrano will be issued. For his part, the pitcher was sorry for his actions.

"I apologize to him [home plate umpire Carlson]," said Zambrano. "After he kicked me out I should have gone to the clubhouse and just kept watching the game. I apologize for throwing the ball, and doing the other things."

Cubs' outfielder Reed Johnson, who eventually hit the game-winning home run in Wednesday's game, had a lighter thought about Zambrano's throw, which went almost 360 feet.

"I was kind of disappointed," Johnson said. "I thought the ball would go into the stands, but the wind was blowing in. As for the Gatorade thing, it continued to take a beating. We'll get some band-aids for it and it will be all right."

After Wednesday's heated ballgame, I asked manager Lou Piniella if this continued umpire involvement by his players was getting out of hand.

"We've had a few, haven't we?" Piniella said. "I've talked to all the individuals [who have had confrontations with umpires] about it. I will talk to Zambrano about this at length, I really will. We can't have that and we'll take care of it."