Carlos Zambrano threw 73 pitches in a simulated game at Wrigley Field on Monday, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. As announced last week, the Cubs have begun the process of stretching him out for a return to the starting rotation.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com isn’t a fan of the whole idea, but Cubs manager Lou Pineilla said on Sunday that “Big Z” will return to the starting rotation on the team’s next roadtrip, which begins on May 31 in Pittsburgh.
Who goes when Zambrano returns? It’s hard to tell.
The Cubs are still waiting to see if Tom Gorzelanny will be able to start on Wednesday after being hit in the left hand by a batted ball last week. On the surface, he’s the most likely one to go, but keep in mind that the Cubs already have three left-handers in the bullpen.
Carlos Silva is 6-0 with a 3.52 ERA through his first nine starts, so he hardly deserves a demotion, but it’s easy to see some regression down the road here, too (76.9 percent strand rate, .202 BAA vs. left-handed batters). It’s worth mentioning that Silva has a 3.73 ERA in 136 career relief appearances compared to a 4.83 ERA over 168 career starts.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.