Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/15/11

Chicago Cubs president of operations Theo Epstein is not ready to welcome back righthander Carlos Zambrano with open arms.

Epstein, after having lunch with the combustible Zambrano and his agent Monday, said the veteran will "have the right to earn his way back to being a Cub."

Zambrano was placed on the disqualified list on Aug. 13 after he cleaned out his locker and said he was quitting following his ejection from a game 24 hours earlier.

"We told him we would give him the right to earn his way back to being a Cub, that nothing would be given to him," Epstein said. "He could earn his way back through very hard work this winter, through rebuilding relationships man-to-man with all his teammates and through other steps we discussed."

Zambrano is under contract for the 2012 season at a hefty price tag of $18 million. He was 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts last season.

Although Epstein said Zambrano was apologetic, but he said it would take more than words to get back in the club's good graces.

"Very much so, but from what I understand, he's seemed that way before, so I think this is a trust-but-verify situation," Epstein said.

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