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.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.