Carlos Zambrano throws simulated game

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Zambrano yells.jpgCarlos Zambrano threw 73 pitches in a simulated game at Wrigley Field on Monday, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. As announced last week, the Cubs have begun the process of stretching him out for a return to the starting rotation.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com isn’t a fan of the whole idea, but Cubs manager Lou Pineilla said on Sunday that “Big Z” will return to the starting rotation on the team’s next roadtrip, which begins on May 31 in Pittsburgh.

Who goes when Zambrano returns? It’s hard to tell.

The Cubs are still waiting to see if Tom Gorzelanny will be able to start on Wednesday after being hit in the left hand by a batted ball last week. On the surface, he’s the most likely one to go, but keep in mind that the Cubs already have three left-handers in the bullpen.

Carlos Silva is 6-0 with a 3.52 ERA through his first nine starts, so he hardly deserves a demotion, but it’s easy to see some regression down the road here, too (76.9 percent strand rate, .202 BAA vs. left-handed batters). It’s worth mentioning that Silva has a 3.73 ERA in 136 career relief appearances compared to a 4.83 ERA over 168 career starts.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.