Zambrano lets Nady take his hacks
Recovering Cubs teammate benefits from DH duties
MESA, Ariz. -- Carlos Zambrano gave up his at-bats Wednesday so Xavier Nady could hit.Zambrano, who doesn't like to miss a chance to swing the bat, volunteered them to Nady, who made his spring debut as the designated hitter in the Cubs' 5-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Nady was 1-for-2 with a single in his first at-bat and a walk. He's limited to designated-hitter duties while he rehabs his right elbow. Nady is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, which he had last July. Zambrano told the Cubs manager to use the designated hitter so Nady can catch up. "[Zambrano] asked me one day -- he said, 'Do you want to play?'" Nady said. "I told him, 'If you want the at-bats, I can go back to [Thursday].' I was excited to get back in there." "My [athletic] trainer talked to me and said they needed for Xavier to play today and I said I have no problem," Zambrano said. "My job in Spring Training is to build my arm. The Cubs pay me to pitch. "It's Spring Training, I let him hit," Zambrano said. "I want him to do whatever he has to do to be ready for the season. He'll be a good addition for us. He can help us. He's a guy who can hit." Nady is still working on throwing. He's been working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on his mechanics and is able to throw from 120 feet. However, manager Lou Piniella said Nady won't be full throttle until June 1. "It's a work in progress," Nady said. "Even I couldn't tell you if I'll be ready April 10 or when I'll feel comfortable to let it fly. The June 1 [date] is more to play and a guy tags from third, try to throw him out at home. That gives me almost 11 months [since the surgery]." He will be able to play the outfield before then and the Cubs will simply have to make some defensive adjustments, moving the cutoff men back to compensate.
2010 Spring Training - Chicago Cubs
News & Features
- Cubs' spring slate includes two games in Vegas
- Rizzo, Jackson headline system on the rise
- Towering homer from Castro leads Cubs
- Cubs ride five-run sixth to victory
- Cubs Beat: April 2
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"I heard 'June,'" Nady said, "but I could play some games here and there. I really don't know. I think time will tell."It did feel good to be in a game, his first since a Minor League rehab outing June 25. Nady was with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and removed himself from the game after making a throw from the outfield. He underwent surgery July 8. A career .280 hitter, he's projected as a backup outfielder and pinch-hitter. "I was happy to be back out there," Nady said about Wednesday's game. "It felt a little awkward at first, first pitch or two. Obviously, your timing is going to be a little awkward. It was a positive feeling to be out there and swing unrestricted and we'll go from there." "Nady can hit," Piniella said. "We have to get him out there on the field and let him get his at-bats. If we can get him on the field, Nady is going to do some damage with the bat." The Giants' Pablo Sandoval looked like he was in midseason form when he launched a 2-0 pitch from Zambrano over the right-field fence in the third inning. "Do you know how many home runs Barry Bonds hit off me? One," Zambrano said. "That was in Spring Training." Zambrano, making his second spring start, gave up five runs on six hits in three innings, hit a batter and walked one. "They got lucky with the bloopers," Zambrano said of the Giants' hitters in the 30-pitch third. "This is Spring Training. The good thing about it is my fastball is running good and all my pitches are good. They got lucky, which sometimes the hitters are." Piniella talked to Cubs catcher Koyie Hill and they felt Zambrano lost a little velocity in the third. "It's Spring Training and that's what it's for, is to build up stamina," Piniella said. What more does Zambrano have to do? "I'll let you know at end of Spring Training, how about that?" he said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.