The best word to describe 31-year-old former Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano? Volatile.
Another word to describe Carlos Zambrano? Talented.
Although it's been a couple of years since Zambrano displayed that talent - he went 11-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 36 games with the Cubs in 2010 - the Phils signed him to a minor-league contract on Wednesday morning hoping he still has some of that talent left in an effort to bolster what's suddenly a thin crop of major league-ready starting pitching talent.
Roy Halladay will undergo right shoulder surgery this afternoon in Los Angeles. He is out indefinitely.
John Lannan will throw a bullpen session for the first time in a month within the next week in Clearwater, Fla. His return is not imminent.
If the Phils were to lose another starter, even to just a minor injury, they would be in serious crisis mode. So adding Zambrano was the type of low-risk, high-reward signing the team is hoping will help avert such a crisis.
Zambrano, who pitched with the Miami Marlins last year, spent this winter in the Venezuelan League before representing that same country in the World Baseball Classic. He's had some famous blowups on major leagues field in the past - including fighting teammates inside his own dugout - but the Phils management is confident his behavior is no longer an issue.
"We got a feel for his desire to come back and his sincerity about that and what kind of condition he’s had to put himself in," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "It’s a minor league deal. It’s not like we’re signing him to a $90 million deal like the Cubs did. You still want to make sure you get a guy that’s committed and will conduct himself appropriately. As far as we’re concerned that was satisfied."
The Phils watched Zambrano pitch with a few other interested teams in Miami on Monday. He'll report to Clearwater immediately.
"We’re just looking to add some starting pitching depth," Proefrock said. "Right now, he’s going to head to extended spring training, start throwing some bullpens and we’ll go from there. No promises were made, but this was just an opportunity to add some starting pitching depth."