Controversial Carlos Zambrano launches the most unlikely comeback

Carlos Zambrano

Carlos Zambrano

Zambrano won 132 games, including six straight seasons with at least 13 wins, and made three All-Star teams during a 12-year Major League Baseball career, but hasn't pitched at the big-league level since 2012.

Mingling with Cubs players and staff on the field at Marlins Park before the teams' game Monday, Zambrano hesitated at first, then showed an email from the independent Chicago Dogs, based in suburban Rosemont, Illinois, welcoming him to the 2019 team.

"I went to that conference, and something happened to me and changed my life, " he said, according to the newspaper.

A year after what the Sun-Times described as a halfhearted comeback attempt in Mexico, he promised this, citing "an encounter with God": He is serious about his attempt to return to the majors as a reliever. The Cubs suspended Zambrano, and he never pitched for the team again.

In January of 2012, Zambrano was traded to the Marlins for pitcher Chris Volstad, and spent one season in Miami where he went 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA.

Zambrano hasn't pitched in the United States since 2013 and had a less than stellar attempted comeback in the Mexican league past year.

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During his time in Chicago, Zambrano was known as much for his on-field and dugout outbursts of anger - including a fistfight with catcher Michael Barrett in 2007 - as much as his consistent output on the mound.

He abruptly "retired" in August 2011, when, as a Cub, he allowed five home runs in a start in Atlanta. He then cleaned out his locker, left the stadium and told teammates he was retiring. "And now I'm committed". In winter league, he said he hit 94.

"I want to see if I can throw 95 again, " Zambrano said.

In his prime, Zambrano had some of the best stuff of a group of Cubs pitchers that included Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, but he could not control his emotions.

"It's hard for me to cry, but a tear came down, " he said. "I think I can handle myself".

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