Carlos Zambrano, who last week insisted he was ready to join the Phillies’ rotation, tossed six shutout innings yesterday at Single-A.
That gives Zambrano a total of 10.1 scoreless innings in two starts for Clearwater, although his 5/4 K/BB ratio isn’t impressive. He’s induced a ton of ground balls, hasn’t given up a homer, and opponents are hitting just .184.
Zambrano can opt out of his minor-league contract on July 1 if he hasn’t been added to the Phillies’ roster by then, but indicated to Adam Berry of MLB.com that he’s willing to show a little more patience:
I’m going to Double-A or Triple-A. And after that, I think I will be ready and I will wait for the call. … Whatever they want me to do–one more outing, whatever. I’m ready to pitch in the big leagues.
Berry reports that Zambrano was working at 90 miles per hour with his sinker and he threw 78 pitches overall, but it’s hard to blame the Phillies for not fully buying into Zambrano immediately based on two Single-A starts given how poorly he’s pitched for the past two seasons.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.