Phils' Zambrano sharp in Reading outing

Posted: June 10, 2013

READING - Crowded into a corner of the Reading Fightin Phils team store, nestled between rows of New Era caps, key chains, and foam fingers, Carlos Zambrano was a long way from the big- league lifestyle he had become accustomed to over a 12-year career.

The veteran righthander fielded questions in a makeshift news conference Saturday night, minutes after he'd turned in his third start of the season in the Phillies farm system since signing as a minor-league free agent May 15.

"You have to do what you have to do," Zambrano said after a 2-1 Reading victory. "If this is the place, this is the place."

It had been 13 years since Zambrano last played in a double-A park. The Venezuelan earned the win in Reading's second game of a doubleheader against the Harrisburg Senators at FirstEnergy Stadium, allowing one run on three hits over six innings of work.

Zambrano threw 97 pitches, 57 of them for strikes.

"Thank God the Phillies have given me this opportunity - and I'm here for them," said Zambrano, who fanned seven and walked three. "I'm here to pitch with them and I'm here to be one of the pieces along with the other 24 guys on the roster . . . be one little piece and help the team."

After retiring Harrisburg in order in the first, Zambrano gave up a one-out solo homer to Senators first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand in the second. Van Ostrand crushed a 1-1 curveball well over the wall in left.

"He was a crafty guy up there," said one scout in attendance. "He wasn't like the old Carlos Zambrano. I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. He won't be anything close to what he used to be like."

The 32-year-old right-hander last pitched in the majors with the Miami Marlins in 2012, going 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA in 34 appearances, 20 of them starts. Prior to Saturday's outing, he was 1-0 and didn't allow a run in 101/3 innings over two starts with high-A Clearwater while making two appearances in extended spring training.

Though he said he's willing to do whatever the Phillies ask of him, he added he'd rather not be a reliever.

"I signed here to be a starter," Zambrano said. "Last year was miserable when I went to the bullpen, I didn't enjoy it."

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