After counseling Z, Ozzie ready to collect

Carlos Zambrano received encouragement from Ozzie Guillen during his stint in the bullpen. Jerry Lai/US Presswire

CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano may pitch for the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs, but Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen made it point to counsel Zambrano about his controversial and short-lived stint in the Cubs bullpen.

"Yes, I did [talk to Zambrano], a lot," Guillen said before Friday's game at U.S. Cellular Field. "I don't want to say I'm his mentor, but he's a good friend of mine.

”I told him to hang in there and don't go crazy ... ‘you will be back in the starting rotation.’ I told him, ‘You'll be out there, take your time, [Cubs manager] Lou [Pinella] knows what he's doing.’ I think he was upset, but everyone did [think Zambrano was unhappy]. But I think he handled it very professionally. Maybe it was killing him inside, but he went out and did what the team wanted him to do, and now he's pitching well."

After making 13 appearances in the bullpen, Zambrano returned to the Cubs starting rotation on June 4. The former All-Star is 2-2 in his last four starts, and is scheduled to face Jake Peavy in the opening game of this weekend's Cubs vs. White Sox series on the South Side.

Many felt Zambrano's hefty salary should have prevented the Cubs from making the move, although Guillen made it a point to disagree.

"It doesn't matter how much money you make, you have to produce,” he said. “I don't think managers think 'Oh, this guy is making $20 million, I have to continue to play him'. I don't make the line-up looking at salaries. I make the line-up [according to] who's better for my club that day."

However, money does play a small role in the Guillen-Zambrano relationship, but only when it comes to picking up the check at their postgame dinner.

"We plan to have dinner after the game, but we'll see what [happens]," Guillen said. "He's paying. He's made more money in a month than I've made in 26 years."