07/15/10 7:33 PM ET
Zambrano begins road back to Cubs
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Zambrano threw about 25 pitches on the side Thursday in Mesa. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild and athletic trainer Mark O'Neal will monitor the pitcher's workout program.
"When he completes that, he'll be sent somewhere next week sometime," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said of the next phase. "He has been throwing, he told us, but at the same time you have to monitor it yourself."
When Zambrano does return, he will be assigned to the bullpen. He has not thrown in a game since June 25, when he lasted one inning against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field and then threw a tantrum in the dugout, accusing his teammates of not playing behind him. He was suspended for three days and then placed on the restricted list.
There's no date set for Zambrano's return.
"He needs to get work in, and when our pitching people down there communicate with Larry that it's time to get him in some games, we'll send him to some," Hendry said.
How's Zambrano's attitude? Hendry said he didn't speak to the pitcher, but Zambrano (3-6, 5.66 ERA) did report ready to go.
"He's paid a dear price for his actions that day, and he'll act accordingly from now on," Hendry said of the Cubs' Opening Day starter.
There are no plans to break up the Cubs' rotation and insert Zambrano in there.
"We're just going to put him in the bullpen to start with," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He's a ways away."
No love lost between Cubs, Reds
CHICAGO -- Cincinnati's Joey Votto said he didn't want to congratulate anyone wearing a Cubs uniform, and the Cubs feel the same way about the Reds.
Votto dissed the Cubs at the All-Star Game, apparently opting to not high five or fist pump Chicago's Marlon Byrd after his heads-up play in the ninth Tuesday, when he threw out Boston's David Ortiz.
"I don't like the Cubs," Votto said after the game in Anaheim. "And I'm not going to pat anybody with a Cubs uniform on the back. But because he made that really cool play, it turned out to be a really cool experience. I'm really glad we got the win today."
Votto made that comment after the National League's win over the American League.
"I don't think he likes the Cardinals either," Lou Piniella said of Votto. "I think it's more an [intradivision] thing."
"That's the competitiveness of Joey Votto," Byrd said. "He's an MVP candidate right now, he's going to say what he believes. But at the same time, I don't think any Cub is going to be patting anyone on the Cincinnati Reds on the back during the season. They're the ones in first place and we're chasing them. We're going to have to come after them hard."
The Cubs opened a four-game series against the Phillies on Thursday, and several of Byrd's opponents are also his good friends.
"Jimmy Rollins is my man," Byrd said, "but he knows I'll flip him if I have to."
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel likes Byrd.
"I always thought Byrdie could hit," Manuel said of the Cubs center fielder. "When I listened to him, he's more mature in his thinking, everything. He's a much better hitter -- a much better player, probably. He's a more stronger hitter now. He's more aggressive than he used to be. He plays the game a little bit different."
Piniella reminisces about Steinbrenner
CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella was able to enjoy the All-Star break, spending time with his family, including a boat ride on Lake Michigan. But he was saddened by the news of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's death on Tuesday.
Piniella played for the Yankees from 1974-84 and managed them from 1986-88. He had a good relationship with Steinbrenner because both he and "The Boss" lived in Tampa, Fla., in the offseason and they would see each other off the field.
Piniella said he had a landscaping business, and Steinbrenner was one of his clients. Did the Yankees owner pay on time?
"Actually, it was a little slow," Piniella said, smiling.
Piniella was not going to attend Saturday's private family ceremony. He has a lot of fond memories from their days together.
"I think George enjoyed a good bickering back and forth," Piniella said. "He also had a good sense of humor, so you could kid around with him and he'd kid around back. Being from Tampa and George moving into Tampa and living there, I got a chance to see him a lot during the winter and enjoyed his friendship."
Could someone like Steinbrenner win with the Cubs?
"George and his group bought the Yankees in '73 and in '76, he was in a World Series, and '77 and '78 he won World Series back to back," Piniella said. "His main focus was winning. He didn't take any shortcuts to win. His style would work anywhere."
Hendry not disclosing trade situation
CHICAGO -- The Cubs began play Thursday 9 1/2 games back in the National League Central, but general manager Jim Hendry won't tip his hand as to whether the team will be trying to move players before the Trade Deadline.
"We're in a situation where if we make deals, they'll always have a design to the future, which is the way they should be," Hendry said Thursday. "We put ourselves in a spot that we didn't foresee coming and certainly weren't pleased about. That said, when you're [9 1/2] back, you don't look to add guys with big salaries or guys who might get you over the hump even if they're short-term guys."
The past three years, the Cubs have been active in adding pieces prior to the Deadline. In 2007, they traded for catcher Jason Kendall. In 2008, the Cubs acquired Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. Last year, they added pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny in late July.
The team is reportedly looking into moving some of the players on the roster now, including outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Ted Lilly, who will start Friday, and first baseman Derrek Lee both will be free agents after this season and could draw some interest.
"I don't ever get into what might happen with trades," Hendry said.
The Cubs open the second half against the defending National League champion Phillies. It'll be a good test.
"I'd like to see us get off to a good start," Hendry said. "You never know how you come out of the gate. Hopefully, the [All-Star] break helped us and guys can regroup and get off to a good start."
Manager Lou Piniella felt the same way.
"We need to put a hot streak together," Piniella said. "We need to swing the bats and put runs on the board consistently. It seems like the teams in front of us have given us ample opportunities. Nine games [sic] is not insurmountable, so I look forward to the challenge, but we have to get it done on the field.
"We need to play better baseball than we did in the first half, there's no question about that. Are we capable? Yes. I'm hopeful that we will."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.