Former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano is pursuing a return to Major League Baseball. Though, to hear him tell it, it’s actually God who wants him to pitch again.
The former Cubs ace who enjoyed a successful but turbulent run with Lou Piniella’s North Side squad over ten years ago, has signed on with the independant Chicago Dogs in Rosemont, Illinois.
‘‘Why not?’’ Zambrano said on Monday. ‘Bartolo [Colon] pitched until he was 45. I’m 37.’’
It has been seven years since Zambrano last pitched in the majors.
Zambrano says the decision to give baseball another shot actually began when he attended a Christian youth conference in Venezuela. Why the former Cubs hurler attended a youth conference in his mid-thirties, is somewhat of a mystery. Though, for him, the conference had special meaning.
‘‘I went to that conference, and something happened to me and changed my life,’’ he said. ‘‘I had an encounter with God. I used to believe in God. And now I’m committed.’’
Zambrano claims that four pastors from four different churches told him: ‘‘God wants you to go back to baseball.’’
The pastors words made Zambrano emotional.
‘‘It’s hard for me to cry, but a tear came down,’’ he said.
To Zambrano, his mission to to return to baseball is more ‘‘obedience to God,’’ than about his personal desires.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times:
Zambrano, who will turn 38 in June, would be one of the greatest stories in sports if he pulls this off. He threw his last major-league pitch on Sept. 21, 2012.
He was the best and most polarizing pitcher for manager Lou Piniella’s playoff teams with the Cubs in 2007-08. But his annual meltdowns eventually overshadowed his achievements until he was suspended in 2011 for abandoning the team after his ejection in Atlanta in one of Jim Hendry’s final moves as general manager.
A few months later, he was dumped in a trade to the Marlins in one of Theo Epstein’s first moves as the Cubs’ president.
Zambrano makes no bold assertions now. Major-league teams are lukewarm at best regarding his comeback effort, and Zambrano said he’s too old to try out.
As far as how Zambrano sees his comeback ending?
‘‘I don’t know what God will do,’’ he said.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn