Zambrano will start on Wednesday
Gorzelanny moved to 'pen; Cashner to join club this week
CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano will return to the Cubs rotation on Wednesday while Tom Gorzelanny is being moved from starter to reliever and the team's 2008 No. 1 Draft pick, Andrew Cashner, will be called up soon to join the bullpen.
With Gorzelanny switching roles, the Cubs now have four lefty relievers: Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall, John Grabow and rookie James Russell. The Cubs want to add Cashner to balance out the relief corps but he was not expected in Pittsburgh on Monday when the Cubs open a three-game series. No date has been set for his call-up.
Gorzelanny was in the Cubs' bullpen on Sunday for the series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"It is what it is," Gorzelanny said. "I'll do my job there and see what happens."
Wednesday in Pittsburgh will be Zambrano's first start since April 20. The right-hander moved to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Ted Lilly and also to give the team a potent set-up pitcher. He was effective until May 14 against the Pirates, when he gave up three runs on four hits over one inning. Zambrano then said he wasn't comfortable in the role and wanted to go back to the rotation.
Since that game, Zambrano has given up one hit over 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Big Z tuned up with a 73-pitch simulated game on May 24. In four starts prior to his move to the bullpen, he was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA.
"He's been throwing the ball well here the last 10 days or so," manager Lou Piniella said of Zambrano. "Now we need for him to carry that over into the rotation and win some ballgames for us. He'll make our rotation stronger if he pitches the way he's capable. We look forward to getting him out there pitching, and Wednesday is a good time to start."
Gorzelanny was 2-5 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts and has primarily been a starter in his career. He made it clear after his last game that he didn't want to go to the bullpen.
"We didn't expect [Gorzelanny] to be happy about it, and he wasn't," Piniella said Sunday. "At the same time, we impressed upon him that he can be very helpful to us. Marshall is a perfect example of that.
"We'll pitch [Gorzelanny] long initially to get him acclimated," Piniella said. "Truthfully, he can help us in any role except the closer's role."
The lefty wasn't pleased at the news. Does he still want to be a starter?
"That's what I am," Gorzelanny said. "This is a decision they made. I'm here to do my job, whatever it is. Put me in the pen. That's fine."
Piniella revealed that Cashner was coming up this week prior to Sunday's game. Cashner began the year at Double-A Tennessee, where he was 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA in six starts, striking out 42 over 36 innings. He moved to Triple-A Iowa in May and went 3-0 as a starter, giving up two earned runs in 19 innings.
The Cubs' front office wanted him to make some relief outings in the Minors to get acclimated to the role. Through Sunday, he had pitched in two games out of the 'pen, including Saturday against Nashville when he pitched a scoreless eighth, giving up one hit and striking out one. In 21 total innings at Iowa, the right-hander has struck out 17 and walked two.
"Everybody knows he came to us from Texas Christian University as a reliever," Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said Sunday. "We put him in the rotation [in the Minors], and when you do that, it helps the players develop their second and third pitch and, most importantly, develop the command of their fastball. And he's done that."
What Cashner has shown this year is the ability to throw strikes with all three of his pitches.
"You have to be able to command three pitches to come up in any role," Fleita said.
What will be tricky is the corresponding roster move. Rookie James Russell has a 2.33 ERA in 17 games. John Grabow is 0-3 with a 9.45 ERA in 23 games, including Sunday when he served up Albert Pujols' third homer of the game in a 9-1 St. Louis win. Marshall has taken over the set-up role and has a 1.82 ERA in 26 games.
Piniella has been impressed with Cashner since watching him this spring. He will ease the right-hander into the mix.
"My history here has been to get a young man acclimated and get him a little comfortable, get the nerves out a little bit and then find the right role," Piniella said. "I think that's probably what we'll do when Cashner comes up."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.