Carlos Zambrano leaves Cubs to visit sick 11-year-old nephew in Venezuela

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After holding the Nationals to one run over 7.1 innings last night for his best start of the season Carlos Zambrano left the Cubs and flew home to Venezuela to be with his sick 11-year-old nephew.
Zambrano told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that his nephew has been hospitalized with a bacterial infection and “is in bad condition.” Zambrano is expected to rejoin the team this weekend and will make his next scheduled start Monday against the Pirates, but pitched last night with his mind on something other than the Nationals’ hitters:

It’s bad. He’s only 11 years old and being close to death is no fun. People should live until their old age, but god calls us home, and what can we do? But at the same time, I talked to my brother and he told me “Don’t worry about what happened there, just worry about what’s going on here and dedicate the game to his son.” In the first inning I was thinking about him, throwing all the pitches saying, “This is for my nephew.”

Since rejoining the rotation a few weeks ago Zambrano is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts, but his 15/16 K/BB ratio isn’t nearly as encouraging.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.

Rays activate Kevin Kiermaier

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The Tampa Bay Rays have activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list.

Kiermaier, who fractured his hip in early June, is batting leadoff and playing center field in tonight’s game against the Mariners. He was just 3-for-24 on his rehab assignment, but those aren’t usually predictive of anything. He was hitting .258/.329/.408 when he went down. Getting his bat — and, more importantly, his glove — back in the lineup will boost the struggling Rays in their quest for a playoff spot.