5/22 Zambrano to prep for rotation return Monday

Tom Gorzelanny threw a bullpen session on Saturday in Chicago, and will make at least one more start. Then, the Cubs rotation could be tweaked. It all depends on how Carlos Zambrano does Monday when he pitches a simulated game.

“We’re going to get Zambrano back in the rotation,” Lou Piniella said Saturday. “He’ll throw Monday and we’ll have some decisions to make.”

Gorzelanny was in Chicago to be with his wife, Lindsey, who gave birth to their first child, son Gavin. There was no problem with his left ring finger, hit by a comebacker on Thursday.

Zambrano has pitched well in his last three relief outings but he wants to start and that’s it.

“His preference is to start,” Piniella said. “I asked him to do something. He tried it, he wasn’t as comfortable with it. We’ll get him back in the rotation and let him pitch. Let him throw the ball the same way he’s throwing now in the rotation and he’ll help us win some ballgames.”

So, what’s the rotation after Sunday?

“As of now, I don’t know exactly what the rotation is,” Piniella said.

Expect Ryan Dempster on Tuesday because the Cubs want to keep him on a five-day rotation. Zambrano was expected to throw 60-65 pitches on Monday, which is an off day for the Cubs. No decision will be made until Piniella has a chance to talk to Big Z Tuesday to see how he feels after the sim start.

However, if Zambrano is pitching Monday, he most likely is unavailable Sunday and the Cubs will be a pitcher short Tuesday and Wednesday against the Dodgers.

“When I give my players my word on something, I follow through with it,” Piniella said. “I told [Zambrano] that we’re going to extend him on Monday. I told him I needed him in Philadelphia and at the beginning of this series. He’s done his part and I’m going to do mine.”

— Carrie Muskat

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