CHICAGO -- The Cubs will have someone in Venezuela to watch Carlos Zambrano on Sunday, when the right-hander makes his first start for Caribes of the Venezuelan Winter League.
Zambrano has not pitched in a game since Aug. 12. The 30-year-old veteran was ejected from that game in Atlanta, then left the ballpark, saying he was retiring. He has since said that the retirement comment was made out of frustration after he served up five home runs in that start. The right-hander was placed on the 30-day restricted list and did not rejoin the Cubs.
Zambrano tuned up for Sunday's start with a 40-pitch outing on Tuesday.
"I think it's a good thing [that he's pitching], under the circumstances," said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. "He probably needs the innings. It could be good for his state of mind to get out there and perform."
Epstein has talked to Zambrano's agent, Barry Praver, and would like to talk to the pitcher next week, if possible.
'Gracious' Sandberg catches up with Theo
CHICAGO -- After Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein met with Mike Quade in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday to tell him that he wouldn't be retained as manager, the next call was to club chairman Tom Ricketts. Then, Epstein called Ryne Sandberg and left a message.
Epstein wanted to tell the Hall of Fame second baseman that he would not be a candidate for the manager's job because the Cubs want someone with Major League experience. Sandberg then called Epstein back.
"It was very gracious of him to call me back," Epstein said. "I explained that as we sat down to create a list of criteria for the next manager, one of the things we wanted was somebody with Major League managerial, coaching experience and that would rule him out."
Epstein did interview Sandberg last year for a job in the Red Sox system, but Sandberg opted to go to the Phillies' Triple-A team.
"I thought he had a great future on a big league staff and as a big league manager someday and wished him luck," Epstein said. "He was very gracious in return and wished us luck with the Cubs and wished me luck personally. There were no hard feelings whatsoever.
"I told him, 'Look, I've only been in Chicago for a little more than a week, but it was clear what an incredible impact he had made on the people here and this organization -- even greater than what I imagined from afar,'" Epstein said. "I said I hoped we could turn the organization into something that would make him proud."
Would Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer let the next Cubs manager include Sandberg on his coaching staff if he wanted to?
"I wouldn't rule anything out," Epstein said.
Hoyer said it was too early to tell whether the coaches under contract for next season will return to the Cubs. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bench coach Pat Listach and bullpen coach Lester Strode all have contracts for 2012. On Wednesday, Hoyer talked to all of the coaches to tell them it will be up to the next manager to determine his staff.
As for Greg Maddux, who was a special assistant on the Cubs, Epstein said it was too soon to say what role the four-time National League Cy Young Award winner might have with the team. Epstein did talk to Maddux to ask him to stay with the Cubs.
Cubs-Red Sox compensation talks ongoing
CHICAGO -- The Cubs and Red Sox are still discussing compensation for Chicago's hiring of Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations since he left his post as Boston's general manager with one year remaining on his contract. The hope is to complete talks this week, but the matter may have to be turned over to Major League Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig.
"We haven't made a ton of progress," Epstein said.
Both the Cubs and Red Sox are searching for managers and will be interviewing some of the same people.
"It's the responsibility for us to get the right person for the Cubs and for [Red Sox GM] Ben [Cherington] to get the right person for the Red Sox," Epstein said. "I'm not sure that will be the same person. Different markets, the organizations are in different places now, different personnel, different front offices."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.