Carlos Zambrano taken to local hospital for MRI on back

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Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano was lifted from his Thursday afternoon start against the Giants due to soreness in his lower back and now word comes from MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat that he had to be taken to a local hospital to undergo an MRI.

The Cubs are optimistic that Big Z won’t need to miss any time and the 30-year-old told reporters after the hospital visit that he’s pitched through similar back problems in the past, but there’s no way of knowing Zambrano’s exact status until the MRI results are reviewed by team physicians on Friday morning.

Zambrano, 30, has an unremarkable 4.34 ERA and 1.37 WHIP through 18 starts this season, with 75 strikeouts and 42 walks in 112 innings. But, as best we know, he hasn’t gone on any dugout tirades or destroyed any Gatorade-dispensing machines at Wrigley Field.

Félix Hernández to rejoin Mariners’ rotation for final start of 2018

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Mariners starter Félix Hernández will come off of the disabled list to make his final start of 2018 on Wednesday against the Athletics, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. Hernández has been on the disabled list since September 8 with a right hamstring strain.

Hernández, 32, has endured the worst season of his 14-year career. He’s 8-13 with a 5.46 ERA and a 121/57 K/BB ratio over 151 2/3 innings. Hernández wants the opportunity to finish 2018 on a good note. He said, “I feel good. No problems. It’s 100 percent. I just want to finish strong and show them I can still pitch. It wasn’t a big injury. They just wanted to give me some rest.”

Hernández is under contract for one more year at $27 million. He has been the face of the franchise for the last decade, but if he doesn’t show he’s capable of beating major league hitters by the end of spring training next year, the Mariners may not be able to afford to give him a spot in the starting rotation. Despite a second-half slide, the Mariners were competitive in the AL West this year, entering the All-Star break 58-39, five games out of first place. With some roster fine-tuning, the Mariners could give the Astros and Athletics a run for their money. Hernández’s involvement with that effort remains to be seen.