Carlos Zambrano is in the best shape of his life

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Our friend Nick Collias of MLBTR has been reading the Venezuelan newspapers and he passes along word from Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes that Carlos Zambrano is either (a) getting into the best shape of his life; or (b) getting ready to fight Ivan Drago in Moscow on Christmas Day:

“I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape. I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors.”

Back door out of the clubhouse in the middle of a game in which he pitched poorly, however, is another story.

In other news, apparently Zambrano participated in the Venezuelan home run derby, called the “Festival de Home Run Pepsi.” Which is great. Zambrano hit one homer and didn’t advance.  The winner was Luis Jimenez, a 10-year minor leaguer currently in the Mariners system. He beat out guys like Pablo Sandoval Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones and Miguel Montero.

I hope Zambrano sticks with the Cubs or latches on someplace. I’m gonna be bored if I can’t write about him next season.

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.