Carlos Zambrano Nears His Return To Rotation

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Carlos Zambrano Throws Simulated Game As He Prepares To Return To Rotation

A month after getting removed from the rotation, Carlos Zambrano is headed back. And, on Monday, he took his biggest step yet towards readjusting:

Carlos Zambrano thew 73 pitches in sim game Mon at Wrigley, 1st time stretched out since move to #Cubs bullpen. He could start next week

Zambrano isn't quite ready to start a big league game yet, but according to Lou Piniella, he'll get a go on the Cubs' next road trip, which begins in Pittsburgh on May 31st.

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Carlos Zambrano Getting Stretched Back Out

It wasn't long ago that Carlos Zambrano was moved to the bullpen to try and fill a hole. 15 hits and six runs later, though, the Cubs seem to be preparing to move Zambrano back into the rotation by way of a stint in long relief.

Carlos Zambrano is moving out of his set-up role and into a long relief role, manager Lou Piniella announced after Monday's 4-2 win over Colorado.
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There's no timetable on the move to the rotation, but the Cubs have basically acknowledged that 'Big Z to the bullpen' was a big flop. He's 0-1 with a 6.23 earned-run average in eight appearances since moving to the bullpen on April 21.

Nothing about Zambrano really translated too well to the bullpen, and though he wasn't given much time to adapt, he belongs in the rotation anyway. It's unclear which of Chicago's current five starters would get the boot to make room, but there's still time for someone to flop as Zambrano works his way back into shape. Ted Lilly's 4.65 ERA is the worst of the group, but Carlos Silva has the worst track record. And really, who's to say what Lou Piniella might do? Lou Piniella wanted Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.

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Carlos Zambrano Says Move To Bullpen Is Only Temporary

At least according to Carlos Zambrano, his much ballyhooed demotion to the bullpen is only a temporary situation. Zambrano told Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago he’ll be back in the Cub rotation at some point.

In his first comments to reporters since his move to the bullpen, Zambrano on Monday said he is OK with his new role but was firm while answering a question about whether he now considers himself a bullpen pitcher.

“No,” he said.

Zambrano was then asked if in his mind he was still a starter.

“Yeah, that’s what [Cubs manager] Lou [Piniella] said, that’s what we agreed [upon],” Zambrano said. “They are looking for a setup man. That’s what they told me. I don’t think I’ll be here [in the bullpen] too long in this role. But I will be there when they need me.”

Zambrano made his bullpen debut on Saturday against the Brewers, allowing one run in one inning and a third against the Brewers.

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Cubs' Carlos Zambrano Moving To The Bullpen

Carlos Zambrano is just 1-2 so far in 2010, with a 7.45 ERA in four starts, and an ERA+ of 65. In short, he is struggling. In his four starts, he's lasted 7.0, 6.0, 5.0 and 1.1 inning before surrendering the ball to the Cubs bullpen. Ah, yes: the Cubs bullpen.

The bunch of relievers in Wrigleyville are carrying around a 1-6 record in 2010, as well as a 6.15 ERA (worst in the N.L.), and they've allowed 41 hits in their 40 innings pitched. In short, the bullpen is struggling. The obvious solution to this, according to a couple of reporters, is to take Zambrano out of the rotation and add him -- a pitcher who made at least 28 starts every year since 2002 -- to the Cubs bullpen. The move was announced by manager Lou Pinella Wednesday afternoon.

Zambrano will serve as the main set-up man for closer Carlos Marmol. There is no word yet on whether or not this will be a permanent adjustment.

"This makes all the since in the world," Piniella said. "This is an area that needs some attention. (Ted Lilly's return from the DL) gives us an opportunity to do it."

Early reaction at Bleed Cubbie Blue is somewhat mixed -- Al Yellon says that he's "all for it," but many fans in the comments aren't quite so supportive.

14 Games in and we have already given up……

Zambrano will officially make the move to the pen on Friday.

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