Nobody's saying exactly when it will happen, but all indications are that Carlos Zambrano is eventually headed back to the starting rotation. After tonight's 4-2 win over the Rockies, Lou got around to telling us about the role change after he was asked if Z was available to pitch.
Zambrano did not warm up tonight, as John Grabow, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall handled relief duties.
The Cubs had hoped that Zambrano could be their eighth-inning setup man after Ted Lilly rejoined the rotation, but Z looked uncomfortable and unhappy in that role.
"Look, we thought that the outcome would be little different," Lou said. "He's not as comfortable with it in the bullpen pitching short so we're going to use him in a different way and get him some stamina, build up his arm, and that's what we're going to do. The next step, probably down the road (in the rotation), if need be, yes."
Transition will be a gradual one, and there is no timetable set for a return to the rotation.
"He told me today there may be a chance to go back to the rotation," Z said. "We'll see how everything works in the next outings for me. Tomorrow will be a big day in the bullpen for me. I may throw 40 or 45 pitches. Like I told one of my teammates in BP, Silva may come tomorrow dealing and throw 80 pitches and I might pitch tomorrow."
The Cubs decided this before Monday night's game, but they didn't say anything about it until 10:30 at night, perhaps because Lou was dealing with questions about his own future earlier in the day.
"I'm happy," Z said. "As long as this team is happy, I'm happy for this team. Like I said before, guys, whatever this team wants me to do, I do. This is a business, and they're the boss. If the boss wants me to close games, I close games. If the boss wants me to start games, I will start games.
"It was a little tough (short relief). I had to get used to the role. It's not that easy."
One of the upshots is that the Cubs will have both of their main setup men being lefties: Grabow and Marshall. Of the two, Marshall has been the far better, pitching 20.1 innings and giving up 11 hits and 5 walks while striking out 27.
"I think it all kind of revolves around my curveball," Marshall said. "I've been able to throw my curveball from different angles and for strikes. It's been good, and it makes my fastball a little bit better."
Grabow helped Randy Wells close out the seventh tonight, but he loaded the bases in the eighth, and Marmol walked in the tying run. Grabow has worked 14.1 innings, giving up 21 hits and 8 walks. The short option among righties appears to be Esmailin Caridad.
A couple leftovers from game action tonight that got overlooked in the Big Z hubbub:
--D-Lee was 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts and 2 double-play grounders.
--Starlin Castro had 3 hits. He's 13-for-36 (.361) for the year with a .439 OBP.
That's it for the late, late show tonight. Back with more in the afternoon Tuesday.