CHICAGO – Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano apologized for his dugout tirade last month.
Zambrano went off after allowing four runs in the first inning against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 25 and had to be separated from teammate Derrek Lee. He was suspended for three games and placed on the restricted list on June 29 with a mandate that he seek anger management counseling.
Zambrano said Monday on ESPN he apologizes "from the bottom of my heart" and that the confrontation "was my fault."
"It's hard to think right when you're mad," he said. "Thank God the Cubs sent me to this doctor. I've been seeing this doctor for anger management, and hopefully, good things will come out of the treatment."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he believes Zambrano is "contrite" and "looking forward to coming back," but reiterated he needs to address his teammates when he returns this weekend at Colorado. He had no comment "one way or another" on Zambrano apologizing first on national TV.
The Cubs' former ace has been on an assignment with Triple-A Iowa and is expected to pitch out of the bullpen when he rejoins the major league club.
Zambrano, who has a history of outbursts, called his latest "a moment of frustration" in which he was "trying to do something for my team."
Piniella said at the time that his pitcher was upset that Lee and third baseman Aramis Ramirez didn't dive for doubles by Juan Pierre and Alex Rios, a notion that Zambrano seemed to dispute. Either way, things really escalated as Zambrano stormed through the dugout.
"(Lee) told me to shut up and to keep playing," Zambrano said. "That was when I got more excited."
As for being mad at the first baseman for not diving, Zambrano said, "The last person that I would be mad at is D-Lee."
Zambrano said he sent Lee a text message two days after the confrontation saying he wanted to talk and that they spoke later in the day, after the game.
"He called me," Zambrano said. "We talked, we chatted. We cleared everything up."
The blowup was the low point of a season in which Zambrano got banished to the bullpen after a slow start and continued to struggle when he returned to the rotation. He's 3-6 with a 5.66 ERA and is in the middle of a five-year $91.5 million extension that includes a full no-trade clause.
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed.