Epstein: Zambrano will have to earn his way back

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The Cubs are turning a new page. New team president, new GM and soon a new manager.  It’s fresh start city at Wrigley. So the last thing they probably want is to deal with bad old business like Carlos Zambrano.

Theo Epstein, however, has continued to leave the door open to the possibility of Zambrano returning to Chicago. His latest comment to that effect came after a meeting with Zambrano’s agent yesterday when he said that Zambrano will have a chance to “earn his way back” to staying with the team. Here’s Epstein, quoted by Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:

“I told him we’d give him the right to earn his way back to being a Cub. Nothing would be given to him.”

Can’t really take any other stance publicly, regardless of your actual intentions. Because, sure, it’s entirely possible that Epstein truly wants to simply cut this sunk cost and toxic presence from the roster. If he signals such an intention, however, he loses any chance of gaining anything — be it a marginal minor leaguer or a modicum of salary relief — from a team willing to take a chance on Big Z.

 

Sean Manaea pitches the first no-hitter of 2018

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.

Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.

Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.

Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.