Carlos Zambrano slated to come off disabled list Saturday

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Carlos Zambrano had a problem-free bullpen session yesterday, clearing the path for him to return from the disabled list when eligible tomorrow against the Marlins.

Zambrano has been out since July 1 with a lower back injury, but allowed zero earned runs over four innings in a rehab start last Friday at Single-A and will slot in behind Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster in the Cubs’ second-half rotation.

While he wasn’t particularly effective before the injury, posting a career-worst 4.34 ERA in 18 starts, Zambrano’s return will be a big help to the Cubs if only because it presumably will bump Ramon Ortiz from the rotation after the 38-year-old predictably went 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in a pair of fill-in starts.

Ortiz simply doesn’t belong in the majors at this point, although in fairness I’ve been writing that since around 2007 and he’s earned about $5 million while throwing 144 innings during that time. With a 5.75 ERA, of course.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.