Carlos Zambrano is “climbing mountains and running on the beach”

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Carlos Zambrano took the mound in the Venezuelan winter league yesterday for the first time since a line drive off the face on November 18 left him needing 16 stitches.

Zambrano faced 13 batters and tossed four hitless, scoreless innings, with Carrie Muskat of MLB.com noting that eight of his twelve outs came on ground balls.

Earlier in the week Zambrano told reporters that he’s preparing for the season by “climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at spring training in optimal shape.”

Whether or not that will be with the Cubs remains to be seen, but the team’s new regime is certainly more willing to live with Zambrano for one more season than the previous front office was. He’s owed $18 million for 2012 and the Cubs would certainly love to deal Zambrano for a decent prospect or a little payroll relief, but short of that they’ll let him at least eat some innings.