Zambrano Changed After Big Deal

Zambrano Changed After Big Deal

A few years ago, when Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were considered the Cubs’ aces, St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols used to tell people the pitcher he feared most on the staff was Carlos Zambrano.

In 2006, with Wood and Prior hurt, Zambrano led the National League with 16 victories and had a strong case for the Cy Young Award.

He was a 25-year-old kid with temper problems who sometimes showed up teammates, but those emotions also made him one of the fiercest — and often dominating — competitors in the game.

‘‘The same thing that made him great — that makes him great — is the emotion he pitches with,’’ Wood said. ‘‘But it’s a double-edged sword.’’

And it has cut such a wide swath since then that the guy who had the potential to become one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history is instead on his way out the door in disgrace, much like the Cubs’ greatest slugger made his exit seven years ago.

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