05/18/10 8:58 PM ET
Who's out of rotation when Big Z returns?
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Chicago switched Zambrano from a starter to a reliever when Ted Lilly returned from the disabled list and because it needed some experience in the bullpen. But Zambrano will be back in the rotation as soon as he builds up arm strength. The Cubs aren't going with a six-man rotation.
"We'll look at that situation, and we'll make a determination," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Let's hope it's a real, real tough choice. Let's concentrate on winning more ballgames and getting Zambrano ready for the rotation."
Not many teams can say they have too many starting pitchers.
"We talked about it in the spring, that we did have some depth in the rotation," Piniella said. "[Sean] Marshall was competing for a spot in the rotation in the spring, and he made the move to the bullpen and it's worked out quite well. He's flourished there."
When the Cubs' brass decided to move Zambrano to the bullpen, it thought his velocity would pick up. It didn't.
"The reason we put Carlos in the bullpen was because we talked about it as a staff, and we felt that with his experience and his intimidation factor that he would be best suited out of the rotation to do that," Piniella said.
Ryan Dempster was considered, because he was the Cubs' closer in 2007, which was Piniella's first year in Chicago.
"We signed him to start and he's done a nice job starting so we don't want to disturb that situation," Piniella said.
The Cubs also considered Randy Wells to make the switch, but decided not to interrupt his routine.
"Wells is doing a real nice job out of the rotation," Piniella said. "We're going to go with what we have and the way we're situated and go from there."
If it's not Dempster or Wells who switch to the bullpen, it could be Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny. Neither Piniella nor general manager Jim Hendry wouldn't say. The focus now is getting Zambrano back into shape to start.
"He'll be a starter again, and we're optimistic that he'll still be an effective one," Hendry said. "Hopefully, he can find some of the magic that made him a high-end guy."
Marshall, Grabow now main setup men
CHICAGO -- The Cubs will be relying on left-handers Sean Marshall and John Grabow as their primary setup pitchers now that Carlos Zambrano is headed back to the rotation.
Marshall has held opponents scoreless in 17 of his 21 appearances and batters are hitting just .162 off him. Grabow has pitched better since receiving a cortisone shot in his left knee on May 8.
"We're basically almost strictly going left-handed in the seventh and eighth innings," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We tried going the other way and it's worked much better with the lefties, so that's what we're going to do.
"I look at Marshall now as our eighth-inning guy, and I look at [Carlos] Marmol obviously as our closer -- and the seventh, we need to do what we need to do. You get them out left-handed, right-handed, it doesn't matter as long as you get them out."
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has been looking for an experienced right-handed setup pitcher since the offseason.
"I don't worry about right or left," Hendry said Tuesday. "Grabow, for most of his career, has gotten righties out more than lefties. Marshall's been terrific. People aren't giving him enough credit. We label people in this role and that role.
"We'd certainly like to have another reliever who can pitch," Hendry said. "[Esmailin] Caridad will get more chances."
Zambrano was switched to the bullpen because the Cubs needed a more experienced setup pitcher. But he now will be stretched out and eventually be inserted back into the rotation.
Justice O'Connor delivers game ball
CHICAGO -- Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, wearing a Cubs jacket, delivered the game ball to the umpires at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
"I told them to try to be absolutely fair," said O'Connor, the first female member of the Supreme Court.
"Maybe they'll listen to you because they never listened to me," said Cubs television analyst and former big league manager Bob Brenly.
O'Connor, who retired from the bench in 2006, was at Wrigley to promote "Our Courts," a web-based education project designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in democracy. The program features free lesson plans, interactive modules and games.
She chatted before the game with Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.