Carlos Zambrano mulling retirement?

Updated: August 13, 2011, 4:23 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

Marmol
Zambrano

ATLANTA -- In a shocking wave of events, Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano cleaned his locker out on Friday night then told clubhouse personnel he was retiring and leaving the team.

Zambrano had been ejected in the fifth inning after throwing two inside pitches that barely missed Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.

"It was a bad scenario all the way around and it didn't end very damn well," Cubs manager Mike Quade said.

Quade was perplexed by the chain of events that occurred.

"I came in, saw there was an empty locker," Quade said. "Then I heard that he was retiring, that he had left."

According to clubhouse personnel, Zambrano said he had enough and left Turner Field before the game ended.

"I don't know [if he's retiring]," Quade said. "So you guys go find him and see what he says."

The scenario leading up to Zambrano's leaving the team was bizarre to say the least. The Braves hit five home runs off the Cubs pitcher, including back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning by Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla.

After Uggla's homer -- his second of the game, following his second-inning blast which extended his hit streak to 32 games -- Zambrano was visited by pitching coach Mark Riggins. Zambrano then threw two inside pitches at Jones. The second one caused Jones to jump all the way out of the batter's box. Plate umpire Tim Timmons ejected Zambrano and numerous players came off the Braves' bench in response to the pitch.

"I don't think the Braves did anything to deserve that," said Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. "They didn't hit any of our guys. They put their heads down and ran. I don't think they did anything wrong. There was no reason for him to throw at anybody."

The Cubs' locker room was silent, with players appearing to be in a state of disbelief after hearing about Zambrano's supposed retirement.

"I just found out after the game," Ramirez said.

When asked if he thought Zambrano was done for good, Ramirez replied, "I don't think so."

Ramirez added that "he'd been throwing the ball well until tonight. The way I see it, anybody can have a bad game. But I never saw anybody pack his stuff and leave and retire. I've been around for a while, but I've never seen something like that."

Mike Quade All I know is, it was a bad night. And that's allowed. But to have done what (Carlos Zambrano) did and tell people goodbye? We lose a game 10-4, and there's 24 guys unhappy about it. And then he's gone? That's not right.

-- Cubs manager Mike Quade

Outfielder Marlon Byrd said he'd reserve judgment on Zambrano's actions until he had a chance to speak with the Cubs' volatile pitcher.

"I don't know what else is going on with him," Byrd said. "He didn't pitch well tonight, but it could be a lot of things going on with him. Until everybody gets a chance to talk to him, we're really not going to know what's going on."

Quade was livid, when told of the news of Zambrano leaving.

"All I know is, it was a bad night," Quade said. "And that's allowed. But to have done what he did and tell people goodbye, we lose a game 10-4, and there's 24 guys unhappy about it. And then he's gone? That's not right."

Quade was asked directly who had told him the news that Zambrano had retired.

"He told clubhouse guys and trainers that he was retiring. But whatever your thoughts are after a tough outing, you don't leave your teammates. The hell with me, you just don't leave your teammates."

Zambrano's track record of abnormal behavior is long and well-documented.

He bashed teammates on June 4 in St. Louis, calling them "Triple-A players" after the team lost a 10-inning game on an Albert Pujols walk-off home run. He apologized to the entire team the following day in Cincinnati.

On June 25, 2010, Zambrano had a dugout blowup with then-Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee at US Cellular field. Zambrano was suspended for two days before being placed on baseball's restricted list for six weeks. After he returned to the team on Aug. 8, he went 8-0 in 11 starts. Zambrano also went through eight months of anger-management sessions after the incident with Lee.

Quade didn't have time to speak with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry -- who was not on the trip with the club -- before his postgame media session.

Hendry told the Chicago Sun-Times that he hadn't spoken to Zambrano.

"We will respect his wishes and honor them," Hendry said, "and move forward."

The Cubs still owe Zambrano close to $24 million for the remainder of this year and next season.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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