Carlos Zambrano prepared for his move back to the rotation with a 73-pitch simulated game Monday and is now scheduled to start against the Pirates during a three-game series that begins Monday.
Exactly which game he’ll start and who he’ll bump from the rotation is unclear, and Piniella indicated that Zambrano may still be available out of the bullpen in the meantime:
We don’t have to concern ourselves with it until next week, and we have some days off coming up. It’ll be a fairly smooth transition. We’ll use him short with the idea that on this coming road trip, we’ll insert him into the rotation. He’s ready to go. His velocity was good. He worked on his split finger, worked on his cutter. He had a nice workout, a real nice workout.
Zambrano has allowed six runs on 16 hits in 11.1 innings as a reliever, and in addition to his lackluster performance the fact that the Cubs used him for just 11.1 innings in the 27 games he’s been in the bullpen points to why it was such a bad decision to move him there in the first place.
Carrie Muskat of MLB.com speculates that Tom Gorzelanny “may be the odd man out of the rotation” because Carlos Silva is likely bump-proof at 6-0. Of course, with a 3.09 ERA and 48/17 K/BB ratio in 46.2 innings Gorzelanny isn’t exactly screaming for a demotion either. He’ll start tonight against the Dodgers.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.