Cubs scouting free agent Looper
Veteran righty could help club address bullpen problems
NEW YORK -- The Cubs are looking at all options to help the bullpen and had scouts recently watch free-agent pitcher Braden Looper.
The right-hander was 14-7 in 34 starts for the Brewers last year with a 5.22 ERA, serving up 39 homers in 194 2/3 innings. He has pitched for the Cardinals, Marlins, Mets and Brewers, compiling a 4.15 career ERA and 72-65 record. He has experience in the bullpen, having served as a closer from 2002-05.
The workout was held somewhere outside of Chicago. FoxSports first reported the Cubs watched the tryout.
The bullpen is 1-6 with a 6.15 ERA so far. Only the D-backs have a worse 'pen ERA in the National League at 6.33.
The team was counting on Angel Guzman, but he's lost for the season following right shoulder surgery, and rookie Esmailin Caridad, projected as the No. 1 setup pitcher, is on the disabled list because of a right forearm strain. Caridad is in Arizona, rehabbing at extended spring training.
Soriano falls double short of hitting for cycle
NEW YORK -- Alfonso Soriano leads the Cubs with six doubles but couldn't come up with one when he needed it in the eighth inning Wednesday.
Soriano hit a two-run homer, a triple and added a RBI single in the Cubs' 9-3 win over the New York Mets.
On Monday, Soriano was called into manager Lou Piniella's office and lectured about not running balls out. In the fourth, Soriano legged out a triple to lead off and scored on Geovany Soto's single. Soto, however, was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit. It was Soriano's first triple since Aug. 19, 2009, at San Diego.
Soriano added a two-out RBI single in the fifth, driving in Marlon Byrd, who had doubled. Byrd walked to lead off the seventh, and one out later, Soriano hit his second homer.
"I'm seeing the ball very good," Soriano said. "I've been working with Rudy [Jaramillo, hitting coach] every day in the cage. That's what I want to be, is comfortable at home plate and swing at strikes."
Mark Grace was the last Cubs player to hit for the cycle, doing so May 9, 1993, against San Diego. But Soriano flew out to right in his last at-bat in the eighth.
Eleven Cubs have accomplish the feat, including Andre Dawson on April 29, 1987, against the Giants, and Ivan DeJesus on April 22, 1980.
Piniella has seen move to 'pen work before
NEW YORK -- Lou Piniella has seen other starting pitchers go into the bullpen and be successful, which may be one reason he wasn't hesitant to move Carlos Zambrano into a relief role on the Cubs.
Piniella was a teammate of Ron Guidry, who made three relief appearances for the New York Yankees in 1979 in place of injured Goose Gossage and also pitched in relief in eight games in 1980. Guidry had 15 complete games in '79 and two saves.
In 1984, which was Piniella's last year as a player with the Yankees, Dave Righetti became a full-time closer after making 31 starts the year before. Righetti saved 31 games in '84 and went on to have a successful career as a closer, totaling 252 saves.
Zambrano has appeared in 263 games in his career, 242 of those as a starter. He will join the bullpen on Friday to make room for Ted Lilly and give the relievers an experienced arm.
His last relief appearance was June 28, 2002, when he pitched one-third of an inning against the White Sox in a 13-9 loss. That season, Zambrano spent the first half in the bullpen and joined the rotation on July 1.
Zambrano isn't the only Opening Day starter to go from the rotation to the 'pen in the same season. In 2007, Brett Myers was the Phillies' Opening Day starter but was switched to a relief role after three starts and saved 21 games that year.
Myers went 0-2 in his first three starts, then moved to the bullpen on April 18, 2007. He made eight appearances, picking up three holds, before he notched his first save on May 3 against the Giants. Myers came back to start Opening Day for the Phillies in 2008 and '09.
Myers finished 5-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 51 games in 2007.
Colvin starts vs. lefty as Nady gets rest
NEW YORK -- Rookie Tyler Colvin made a rare start against a left-handed pitcher for the Cubs because Xavier Nady needed at least one more day.
Colvin, a left-handed hitter, started in right field. Nady is rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, which he had last summer, and has been limited in his starts.
Nady, who was batting .250 in 10 games, started back-to-back games for the first time this season on Sunday and Monday. Colvin, who is 0-for-4 against lefties so far, was batting .222 overall.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.