"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."