In addition to Ozzie Guillen’s return, tonight’s Cubs-Marlins tilt
matches up Carlos Zambrano against his old buddies brings the Cubs to Carlos Zambrano’s house.* And despite the fact that he blew up all the time and walked out on the team last season in Atlanta, they seem magnanimous enough:
“He had a lot of friends on this team,” Marlon Byrd said. “That’s what people forget. You see his antics on the field, and the reasons he was suspended, and all the other b.s. But at the same time, you still have friends he has guys he texts on this team, and talks to on this team We’re going to see him and hopefully he’s looking good and feeling good.”
That sentiment was echoed by many. Gosh, the Cubs seem centered. Probably because they are, reports Patrick Mooney:
But now that Theo Epstein has been given the keys to the kingdom, there is a sense of stability and confidence in the long-range plan. People have noticed how quiet it is around this team.
“Everybody just focuses on what we do – playing baseball,” outfielder Alfonso Soriano said. “Everybody’s relaxed and enjoys what we do.
This is a first that I can recall, by the way: a losing team — the Cubs are 3-7 — with good chemistry and a peaceful clubhouse. And here I thought those things are what caused a team to win.
*Yeah, I wrote that Zambrano was facing the Cubs tonight. Not sure why I thought that.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.