04/28/10 6:11 PM ET
Kennedy excited for first start at Wrigley
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
The young D-backs right-hander has been to Chicago before. He came to U.S. Cellular Field with the Yankees, but didn't pitch. During the 2008 All-Star break, he came with his wife to visit his mother-in-law, who lives in the area.
"It's a really nice town," Kennedy said. "I enjoyed visiting there."
He'll get to do a lot more than that Thursday. Kennedy will make his fifth start with the D-backs -- and first in Chicago -- against the Cubs. He's only seen Wrigley Field on TV, so he's eager to soak in the atmosphere of the Friendly Confines.
"It's going to be cool," Kennedy said. "I mean, you hear the guys talk about how cool it is to play there because it's a historic stadium and they have a lot of good fans. That makes it fun for a player. It gives you some adrenaline."
Not that Kennedy needs any more incentive. He's pitched very well in his past two starts, even though he doesn't have anything to show for it in the win column. He went eight innings and allowed just two runs on four hits against Philadelphia his last time out, an eventual loss for Arizona. That followed up the five shutout frames he threw in San Diego, though he walked five in that one, another game the bullpen eventually lost.
Kennedy's mound opponent is Ted Lilly, who just returned to the Cubs' rotation Saturday. The Cubs couldn't have asked for anything more from his debut. The left-hander went six shutout innings for the win in Milwaukee, allowing just three hits. Lilly is 2-3 with a 3.97 ERA in seven career games against the D-backs, including a loss in his lone start (five innings, five earned runs) against Arizona a year ago.
D-backs: Regulars back at it in Chicago
Wednesday afternoon was a day game after a night game for Arizona. That's often the opportune time for a manager to give his regulars some time off. That's exactly what A.J. Hinch did with shortstop Stephen Drew and catcher Chris Snyder.
It's not that either of them were really desperate for the time off. Snyder has a nine-game hitting streak going, though getting the No. 1 starter a blow is never a bad idea. Drew has been steady and though he went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, he had gone 3-for-9 with a double and a triple in the previous two games. Both should be in there against Lilly. Snyder has a homer off of the left-hander, going 2-for-9 overall. Drew has gone 2-for-7 with a triple against him.
Cubs: Faithful love the Big Z
It might have seemed controversial, moving the team's one-time ace into the bullpen. But so far, count the fans and the manager among those who are enjoying the move.
Carlos Zambrano made his second relief appearance of the season against the Nationals on Monday, and the Wrigley faithful gave him a hearty welcome. He responded by giving up just a single hit in an inning and two-thirds of scoreless work, an eventual Cubs win.
"I think the fans enjoy it," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He's got that type of status that the fans want to see him come out of the bullpen and do well. It pumps him up and gives him some adrenaline."
Piniella's a fan of the move as well, given that Zambrano is helping plug the leaks of what's been a shaky bullpen so far this season. While he and the fans love it, it's not clear if the pitcher himself is a fan of the new role.
"I don't know that," Piniella said. "I'm not going to go that far. I'm appreciative. That's where we need him right now."
An even dozen of the Cubs' 22 contests have been decided by two or fewer runs, with Chicago going 4-8 in those games. ... The Cubs don't have a day off until May 3 (Monday). They've played 15 games in a stretch of 19 straight without a breather.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.