Carlos Zambrano wants back into the rotation at some point this season

2 Comments

Carlos Zambrano is apparently fine with the Cubs moving him to the bullpen … for now.
He reportedly told manager Lou Piniella that he’d like to rejoin the rotation in time for the playoffs, which is both interesting from a strategic standpoint and wishful thinking from a Cubs player.
Here’s what Piniella said about Zambrano’s request:

He did mention that. The playoffs are a long, long, long way away. Let’s just get through April right now. Let’s not put a time frame on it, let’s not do that. We need help in the eighth inning role right now and that’s what we’re trying to help ourselves in.

Zambrano is expected to be available out of the bullpen Saturday, which is when Ted Lilly comes off the disabled list to rejoin the rotation.
Piniella has made it clear that Zambrano will be used as Carlos Marmol’s primary setup man, working mostly in the eighth inning and for just one inning at a time. “We want to use him short and we want to use Marmol short,” Piniella said. “An inning, or an inning and a third.”
I’d still probably bet on Zambrano ending up with more starts than relief appearances this season.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Leave a comment

For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).