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Friday, June 17, 2011
Rothschild still fan of Zambrano

By Bruce Levine

CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild will always call Chicago, and in some ways Wrigley Field, his home. But most people will remember his time in Chicago as the pitching coach for Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano.

Rothschild was Zambrano's first pitching coach when Zambrano began his big-league career in 2002. And Rothschild was there when Zambrano came back last August from his anger management sessions and put up an 8-0 record in 11 starts to end the season.

"I thought he just started pitching more and just used all of his weapons he had at his disposal," said Rothschild, who returned to Wrigley Field on Friday as pitching coach of the New York Yankees. "He got away from overthrowing his pitches, and he had a great knack of pitching to his stuff on a given day."

The Yankees, who have had scouts looking at Zambrano over the past month, are missing pitchers Bartolo Colon, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano. New York ownership knows the team will have to add pitching if they are going to stay in the AL East race with the Boston Red Sox.

Rotchschild said Zambrano has evolved as a pitcher.

"The difference in Carlos now is that if he has power in a given day he will use it," Rothschild said. "If he doesn't, he has found a different way to get hitters out. Now he is a pitcher who has tremendous movement and can get people out with his second, third and fourth pitches."

I asked Rothschild if he saw a different Zambrano when he came back from his therapy sessions in August.

"A lot came to him at a young age. That's not easy for anybody, no matter who you are or what kind of person you are," Rothschild said. "To me he has always been a good person to work with from a coach's point of view. So you saw the stuff and the comments he made but from my point of view he always did his work, he always listened to me, and he always really tried to get better. As a coach, that's what you look for. We had a relationship for nine years, and we worked together for a long time."

If you read between the lines of Rothschild quotes, you can see that he still has an affinity for Zambrano and would most likely welcome him to the Yankees if a move was made. Rothschild is not allowed to talk about his or the team's interest in another player. That's tampering, and it carries a heavy fine. But if Yankees general manager Brian Cashman asks Rothschild if he can work with Zambrano again, the answer would most likely be yes.

Although the Yankees are in need of starting pitching, they might be more apt to go after a left-handed starter due to all the outstanding left-handed hitting in their division, particularly on the Boston Red Sox. But Zambrano would be a nice addition to the Yankees.

Yankees manager and former Cub Joe Girardi caught Zambrano early in his career.

"He was a very young kid with electric stuff," Girardi said. "He was learning how to pitch, but I always had a good relationship with Z."

Maybe Girardi and Rothschild will be able to re-kindle the relationship with Zambrano before the trade deadline on July 31.