Carlos Zambrano promised move to bullpen is temporary

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Thumbnail image for carlos zambrano.jpgCarlos Zambrano told Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com that Cubs manager Lou Piniella promised him that his move to the bullpen will only be temporary as general manager Jim Hendry searches for a set-up man.

“Yeah, that’s what [Cubs manager] Lou [Piniella] said, that’s what we
agreed [upon],” Zambrano said. “They are looking for a setup man. That’s
what they told me. I don’t think I’ll be here [in the bullpen] too long
in this role. But I will be there when they need me.”

Hendry, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency to change course.

“I never predict whether or not we’re going to acquire anybody or not,”
Hendry said. “I don’t have a time frame. This is just the best decision
for the club. A month from now we might have an injury or someone might
slip up, things can change.”

Though they haven’t been linked in talks yet, one possibility for the bullpen is right-hander Juan Cruz, who was inexplicably released by the Royals last week. Cruz was pretty awful last season, but remember that he still touches the mid 90s on his fastball and is just two years removed from a 2.61 ERA with the Diamondbacks.

Big Z made his debut out of the bullpen on Saturday, allowing one run
over 1 1/3 innings. After resting on Sunday, Piniella said the $17 million reliever is available for Monday night’s game
against the Nationals.
 

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.