Zambranogate: When Will Carlos Return?

Carlos Zambrano remains on the restricted list, suspended by the Chicago Cubs, and theoretically out until he completes anger management counseling. But when will that be? And even if he completes it very soon, how quickly can he actually come back to the team?

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Sunday that Zambrano, the temper-tangled right-hander who has been on the restricted list for two weeks, definitely won’t return during the four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies that opens the post-All-Star schedule.

That takes the process into the third week of the month, with a minor-league rehabilitation assignment still necessary to get him physically ready to perform out of the bullpen when he returns.

And that can’t even begin until Zambrano gets through enough of his anger-management process to be allowed to resume formal baseball activity. He has been playing catch on his own since going on the restricted list, team officials say. The Cubs haven’t been given the OK from his doctors to contact him about a more formal throwing program.

”We’re still in limbo as far as that’s concerned,” said Piniella, who plans to meet with general manager Jim Hendry on Wednesday in Chicago to go over team issues, including that one, before second-half play begins. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

With even a moderate minor league rehab stint, it’s hard to imagine Zambrano back before the end of July. That being the case, it seems highly unlikely that he’ll be traded in-season, given that July 31 is the non-waiver trade deadline. He could be traded up until the end of August if he clears waivers (he would), but it’s generally less likely – if it was likely at all.

The Cubs, I expect, hope Zambrano returns a truly changed man, so they at least have the option of keeping him next season, and aren’t faced with a Milton-Bradleyesque need to dump this offseason. At a minimum, they probably hope he pitches well in August and September, making efforts to deal him just a slight bit easier.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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