Chicago Cubs reliever starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano is being stretched out for a return to the rotation, having thrown a simulated game yesterday.

Zambrano threw 73 pitches Monday in a simulated game at Wrigley Field, his first extended outing since switching to the bullpen on April 22. Zambrano is being stretched out so he can return to the rotation.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Sunday that Zambrano’s first start would be on the road, which means he would miss the upcoming series against the Dodgers and Cardinals that opens Tuesday night. The Cubs begin a nine-game trip on May 31 in Pittsburgh. cubs.com.

Zambrano was removed from the bullpen on Sunday, which means that, if he doesn’t return until the upcoming road trip, he will have been unavailable for 10 days. I guess that’s a fair amount of time to transition from pen to rotation, but it’s an awful lot of games – and some very important, difficult games – for him to miss, especially if he’s already capable of throwing 73 pitches.



The lingering question, of course, is what happens to the rotation when Z is ready to return. Someone traded? Randy Wells bumped? The Cubs are on the clock.


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