Carlos Zambrano returns

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If the Cubs have any hope of unloading Carlos Zambrano on anyone, they’re going to have to showcase him as a starter. That showcasing began last night. It wasn’t pretty, but it could have been way uglier.

Zambrano gave up only two runs over five innings, but that was deceiving: only 49 of his 96 pitches were strikes and he walked seven. The Giants were 2 for 14 with men in scoring position and left 15 men on base. If they had an inkling of where to find a timely hit last night this thing could have been seriously ugly.

But the Cubs have no choice: they have to run Zambrano out there every fifth day no matter what happens. If he can put together a handful of at least arguably respectable starts, there’s a chance that someone will take a chance on the guy (even then, I suspect they’d only take a fraction of the contract). If he can’t get anyone out and/or has another meltdown, the guy may very well be out of baseball next season.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.