Former big league hurler Carlos Zambrano is launching a comeback bid, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The long-time Cubs hurler will kick things off by returning to the windy city for a stint with the American Association’s Chicago Dogs.
Zambrano was at times one of the game’s best pitchers, having thrice finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting in the National League. He compiled nearly two thousand innings of 3.66 ERA ball at the game’s highest level. Of course, Zambrano is also now 37 years of age. There are certainly hurlers who’ve proven capable of being quite useful at that age, but Zambrano is a bit rusty. He last pitched in the majors in 2012 (with the Marlins), last threw in the affiliated ranks in 2013 (with the Phillies), and announced his retirement in 2014.
More recently, Zambrano has dabbled with a return to competitive action. He took seven starts in the Mexican League last fall, pitching to a 5.18 ERA in 33 innings but recording more walks (17) than strikeouts (11). The numbers were even less promising in a just-completed 29 1/3-frame stint in the Venezuelan Winter League. Zambrano coughed up 24 earned runs on 47 hits while compiling a 10:12 K/BB ratio.
Those showings don’t leave much cause for optimism, but Zambrano says he’s fully committed now to giving it a real go. The scouts will surely find him if he shows any spark, though Zambrano’s possible path back to the majors may also be complicated by his history of confrontational behavior. If nothing else, Zambrano certainly ought to help the Dogs draw. He’ll join a roster that also includes another name of note for Chicago-area fans in Shawon Dunston Jr.