Zambrano Says He Wants to Stay With Cubs

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

CHICAGO – Carlos Zambrano said Monday he wants to stay with the Cubs and has faith that he will eventually sign a contract extension.

“That’s what I feel, man, that I will sign back with the Cubs,” Chicago’s ace right-hander said.

Zambrano, currently an 11-game winner who can be a free agent after this season, initially wanted a new deal in place by opening day. But talks about a multiyear contract stalled after it was announced the team was going to be sold.

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Tribune Co., which owns the team, announced in April that it was selling itself for $8.2 billion to Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell, who made the deal contingent on shedding noncore assets. That means the Cubs will go on the auction block at the end of the season.

“Hopefully, all the things about the company selling and all that stuff will be resolved and I can be signed,” Zambrano said Monday before the Cubs met the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field.

“I want to stay here. We’ll see what happens at the end of the season with how I finish this season and how I can help this team go to the playoffs.”

After a slow start, Zambrano is 11-7 overall and 6-2 in his last eight starts since he got in a fight with then-Cubs catcher Michael Barrett on June 1.

“I’m pitching good. I think I want to focus more on baseball. The contract I know will come if I do a good job,” Zambrano said.

He acknowledged that the pending sale of the team had complicated negotiations. He said that his agent, Barry Praver, had talked with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, but not to discuss a deal.

“I talked to him two days ago and he told me he hasn’t talked to the Cubs about a contract,” Zambrano said. “He said he talked to Jim but otherwise no about my contract. Like I said we’ll see at the end of the season.”

Since there are ongoing negotiations, does Zambrano have a timetable?

“I don’t say now. I don’t say next week. I don’t say next month. I say at the end of the season. Yeah,” he said.

Asked if his price tag rises with each victory, Zambrano chuckled.

“That’s a good question. I’ll pass on that. I’ll have to talk to my agent,” he said.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)