Carlos Zambrano met with Theo Epstein, expects to stay with Cubs

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Under the previous Cubs regime Carlos Zambrano was considered a goner, but after meeting recently with new team president Theo Epstein the mercurial right-hander now expects to remain in Chicago.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune spoke to an unnamed friend of Zambrano who said “he likes Theo and is looking forward to proving himself next year.”

He’s also apparently happy that pitching coach Mark Riggins has been replaced and Zambrano is expected to resume pitching in the Venezuelan winter league later this week, although if he looks good enough there to draw some interest from other teams it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Epstein pulled the trigger on a deal.

Zambrano is owed $18 million in the final season of a five-year, $91.5 million contract, but does have the ability to block any trade.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.