Cubs will monitor Carlos Zambrano’s starts in Venezuela

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Theo Epstein said yesterday that the Cubs are very much in favor of Carlos Zambrano pitching in the Venezuelan winter league and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that they’ll “have a scout monitoring” his first start Sunday.

Zambrano, who’ll be managed in Venezuela by Julio Franco, is scheduled to make a total of nine appearances for Los Caribes de Anzoategui after sitting out the final six weeks of the season while suspended by the Cubs.

“He probably needs the innings and it could be good for his state of mind to get out there and perform,” Epstein told Sullivan.

Epstein has yet to talk to Zambrano, but revealed that he had an “enlightening” conversation with the right-hander’s agent recently and is seemingly much more open to Zambrano sticking around than previous management was. Zambrano is owed $18 million next season in the final year of a $91.5 million deal.

White Sox slugger Jiménez sidelined with bruised foot

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CHICAGO — Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez has a sprained right foot, likely sidelining the slugger for a pivotal season-ending series against the crosstown Cubs.

The White Sox had dropped a season-high five in a row heading into the weekend set, falling out of first place in the AL Central. They are hoping to get back on track heading into their playoff appearance since 2008, but the health of Jimenez is a concern.

Jimenez, who is batting .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs, was injured sliding across home in the seventh inning of Chicago’s 5-4 loss at Cleveland on Thursday. Manager Rick Renteria said the 23-year-old left fielder will need “to be off his feet” for a few days.

“There’s inflammation in there and they want to calm it down” Renteria said. “We’ll know more in a few days.”

The White Sox trailed the first-place Twins by a game heading into the series with the Cubs. They are just one ahead of the third-place Indians. The AL postseason begins on Tuesday.