Last week I wrote about Carlos Zambrano tying Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson for the seventh-most homers by a pitcher in baseball history, but when Zambrano tweaked his back Saturday manager Ozzie Guillen suddenly wasn’t so interested in his power potential.
Here’s what Guillen told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
We’re going to cut down on his swings. He ain’t swinging no more. He’s done with that. Now he’s just going to bunt, bunt, and bunt. No more home run derby for him. You see Carlos, Carlos puts on a show when he hits. He does. That’s why we have to control that and make sure. I’m not going to say he’s not going to hit, but I don’t want him to. You don’t win games in batting practice. I don’t want him to start swinging the bat like that.
Zambrano has 24 homers in 682 at-bats and while his career .640 OPS is in backup catcher/utility infielder territory that production has been worth 75-100 runs more than a typical pitcher at the plate during that time. In other words, asking Zambrano not to take such big hacks might help him avoid some injuries but it would also take plenty of runs off the board for the Marlins’ lineup.
Zambrano’s next start is against the Rays under AL rules, so Guillen won’t have to worry about him hacking for a little while.