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.

Shawn Tolleson retires from baseball

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Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that reliever Shawn Tolleson is retiring from baseball. The right-hander experienced a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery last week.

Tolleson, who turns 31 years old on Saturday, last pitched in the majors in 2016. He had two very good years out of the bullpen for the Rangers in 2014-15, posting an aggregate 2.88 ERA with 145 strikeouts and 45 walks across 144 innings.

Tolleson signed a one-year deal with the Rays in January 2017 before undergoing Tommy John surgery several months later. The Rangers inked him to a minor league contract in December 2017, but he wasn’t able to work his way back.