Carlos Zambrano serves up homer to Cubs teammate in first Venezuelan start

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Carlos Zambrano made his first Venezuelan winter league start yesterday and his Cubs teammate Bryan LaHair took him deep as part of 2.2 innings of two-run ball.

Zambrano last started for the Cubs three months ago, so Los Caribes de Anzoátegui is limiting his workload for now. He needed 60 pitches to record eight outs and issued two walks, hit one batter, and committed a throwing error.

And according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune the crowd gave Zambrano a standing ovation as he exited the game in the middle of the third inning.

Theo Epstein has said the Cubs are in favor of Zambrano pitching in Venezuela and plan to have someone on hand to watch his starts, so his performance may determine whether they eat a big portion of his $18 million salary to make a trade or decide to simply hang onto Zambrano for the final year of his $91.5 million contract.

Reds top prospect Nick Senzel to undergo season-ending surgery

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Reds no. 1 prospect Nick Senzel is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday, the club announced Saturday. Senzel tore a tendon in his right index finger on Friday and is not expected to make a full recovery before the 2018 season comes to a close, though any offseason activity has not yet been ruled out.

Prior to the start of the season, MLB Pipeline ranked the 22-year-old infielder first in the Reds’ system and sixth in the league overall. He made a fine impression in his debut with Triple-A Louisville, too, slashing .310/378/.509 with six home runs and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. A call-up seemed inevitable at some point in 2018, though the Reds will now have to shelve any immediate plans for the third baseman as he works through a lengthy recovery process in order to take the field sometime in 2019.

Impressive numbers notwithstanding, it’s been a rough year for Senzel. He missed nearly a month after another chronic bout of vertigo and logged just 21 games in Louisville before landing on the disabled list again. This appears to be the first significant injury of his professional career so far.