[Zambrano, getting ready for his return to Wrigley.]
First, an Opening Day tip of the CSTB cap to the comment section’s Pete Segall. Pete sent in a link to the Tribune’s team stenographer Paul Sullivan who (as predicted by CSTB) spent the day helping Carlos Zambrano backtrack on his recent wish that someone tear Wrigley down and build him a Big Z Graceland. Z better backtrack a LONG way, because he said the same thing last year. And yeah, he’s right. Speaking of sports journos, during tonight’s ESPN-cast, Dave O’Brien brought up the San Diego-Chicago Jake Peavy situation with a mixed metaphor classic, that Peavy is “the 800-lb gorilla in the room for the Cubs.” Whatever that means …
On Opening Day, the good news for Alfonso Soriano is that, after a spring season of critics demanding he drop down in the order, his 1st inning lead-off HR at Minute Maid should shut them up for the rest of the night. It was followed by an Aramis Ramirez clocked ducket in the 2nd, with the Cubs generating two more runs to beat the once feared Roy Oswalt, 4-2. I don’t know what’s happened to Oswalt, but he used to be the scourge of the NL Central. As to other former Central scourges, one-time Brewer savior CC Sabbathia managed to choke in another high profile game “ ie, pitching the Yankee season opener. Since NYC is a low key sports town willing to nurture struggling talent “ oh wait, that’s Milwaukee and Cleveland. In that case, I expect the jittery CC to come under intense scrutiny and rank a big disappointment at the new Yankeeland Museum of Former Greatness.
After Zambrano threw 6 and 1/3, the real drama was the bullpen debut of Heilman-Cotts-Marmol-Gregg, at turns impressive and wobbily. Heilman allowed a run that got tallied to a visibly pissed Zambrano. Cotts did his job as Piniella’s go-to lefty (cuz he’s the only one) and Marmol survived the heart of the order. Gregg then allowed a second run to the deep end of the Astros line-up. Shots of Piniella in the dugout already revealed a mid-season focus. The Piniella who once sat players down for weeks with That Look appears to be back. Milton Bradley did not explode. Fukudome did not impress. Zambrano did not give love to Minute Maid Park.
Paul Sullivan’s account of the game is here, which includes some unabashed rooting from
former Cub Rick Sutcliffe:
Soriano was also relaxed and confident, as ESPN announcer Rick Sutcliffe discovered when he walked up to Soriano’s locker before the game.
“What did I say in spring training?” Sutcliffe asked Soriano.
“Just me and you, baby,” Soriano replied.
“I said, that’s my MVP this year,” Sutcliffe said.
“Just stay healthy, that’s the key,” Soriano said.
“You going to prove me right?” Sutcliffe asked.
Soriano smiled sheepishly and said: “Yeah.”
Asked afterward if being an MVP was his goal, Soriano said no and that he just wanted to stay healthy and put up some good numbers.
“Let’s see if I can play 155 games,” he said.