Carlos Zambrano is “climbing mountains and running on the beach”

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Carlos Zambrano took the mound in the Venezuelan winter league yesterday for the first time since a line drive off the face on November 18 left him needing 16 stitches.

Zambrano faced 13 batters and tossed four hitless, scoreless innings, with Carrie Muskat of MLB.com noting that eight of his twelve outs came on ground balls.

Earlier in the week Zambrano told reporters that he’s preparing for the season by “climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at spring training in optimal shape.”

Whether or not that will be with the Cubs remains to be seen, but the team’s new regime is certainly more willing to live with Zambrano for one more season than the previous front office was. He’s owed $18 million for 2012 and the Cubs would certainly love to deal Zambrano for a decent prospect or a little payroll relief, but short of that they’ll let him at least eat some innings.

Mets sign Jose Lobaton to minor league deal

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The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.

In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.