5/17 Big Z to change roles to long relief

Carlos Zambrano is changing jobs — again.

The right-hander has gone from the rotation to the bullpen to be a set-up man but Lou Piniella said after Monday’s game that Big Z will now be used in long relief. The Cubs want him to build up arm strength, and he will eventually return to the rotation. But, there is no timetable for that.

“We’re going to change Zambrano’s role,” Piniella said. “We’re going to start stretching him out a little bit and gain some stamina and arm strength and we’ll leave it at that. He wasn’t in the bullpen tonight for short duty but he will be in the bullpen tomorrow. We are changing his role from short to longer, build up some arm strength and stamina. He’ll be out there tomorrow.”

When asked if that meant Zambrano was returning to the rotation, Piniella made it clear that’s not what he said.

“I didn’t say rotation,” Piniella said. “I said we’re going to change his role in the bullpen.”

This means the Cubs will rely on Sean Marshall as the prime set-up pitcher for Carlos Marmol.

Zambrano talked to Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild prior to Monday’s game.

“[Piniella] told me today there may be a chance to go back to the rotation,” Zambrano said. “We’ll see how everything works in the next few outings for me.”

Zambrano has made it clear he was not happy being switched from starter to reliever.

“I’m happy,” he said Monday night. “As long as this team is happy, I’m happy for this team. Like I said, whatever this team wants me to do, I’ll do. This is a business. They’re the boss. If the boss wants me to go close games, I’ll close games. If the boss wants me to start games, I’ll start games. It’s their choice.”

— Carrie Muskat

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