Carlos Zambrano MRI Results

UPDATE-June 20th @ 11:00 PM:
Everyone off their ledges-Carlos Zambrano, and the Cubs, are fine.

Zambrano had an MRI arthogram performed Friday afternoon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was said to be at home resting. Despite what was previously reported, Zambrano had the arthogram procedure rather than a simple MRI. Turns out the arthogram is a bigger deal than I had thought. There's a great link describing the procedure in detail here. But, basically, a local anesthetic shot is given and then doctors shoot dye directly into the joint with a needle. A number of x-rays are then taken and doctors are able to analyze the joint more accurately due to the contrast provided by the dye injection. Sounds painful.

The results of the test showed that Z has only a mild strain in his shoulder. His rotator cuff looks good and, in what can be considered really good news, so does his labrum. (Great article here on Slate from BP's Will Carroll re: why pitchers and the health and durability of their labrums are such a big deal.) Says Jim Hendry:
"The good news is there was no structural damage to the two main parts of his shoulder," said general manager Jim Hendry. "The two worrisome parts of his shoulder are the labrum and the rotator cuff, and they're in very, very good shape for a man who has pitched as many innings in the big leagues that he has."
Zambrano will meet with team medical staff on Saturday and they'll go from there. The team has already said that Z will miss his Tuesday start, but if he'll be out any longer is up in the air for now.

I wouldn't rule out a DL stint and, in fact, I'm both expecting and hoping for one. I don't want to get Z out of his rhythm, but taking this opportunity to shelve him for a bit to keep his season workload down is not a bad idea. The further we get into the season, the more clear it is becoming that this year could be special. It's great to have the best record in baseball in June, but what's that get you? I'd much rather have Z, Marmol, Wood, Howry, etc. healthy and with plenty left in the tank to make a run into October.

Word from Paul Sullivan is that the Cubs will call up Eric Patterson...again...on Saturday in light of the nagging injuries to Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds. To make room, Z to the DL would be a better solution than sending down a bat.

Also, with Monday's off day, Sean Marshall probably won't be needed until next Saturday. The Cubs can skip Z's turn in the rotation and get by on 4 SPs until then. Next Saturday we'll probably see Patterson sent back down...again...and Sean Marshall called up to start.

We dodged one here guys. Looks like we're going to be okay for now. Onward.

-------------------
Anyone else keep checking around the Interwebs all day today looking for the results of Zambrano's MRI? Yeah, me too. Turns out he's not having the MRI until Friday. So we're going to have to do that all day again tomorrow.

The good news is that the cubs are hopeful Zambrano will only be out a short time. The bad news is that the Cubs team doctors gave Z the once-over today in Chicago and we haven't heard the "all clear" signal sounded.

The team has confirmed that Zambrano will miss at least one start, this coming Tuesday against Baltimore. He could miss more pending the results of this computer test thingy. It's sounding like Sean Marshall will be called up to make the start on Tuesday and, if necessary, beyond. To do so, the Cubs will need to make a corresponding move-either putting Z on the DL (which is probable in my opinion-no need to rush this, let's just keep him healthy) or sending down a guy like Hoffpauir or Murton (less likely with the interleague play).

A Trip Around the Minors

IOWA CUBS
Kevin Hart: Hart was drilled in the face by a line drive in his Wednesday start for Iowa. Yeah, that's right. In the face. By a line drive. Other than the concussion he suffered as a result, Hart is doing fine. He was taken to and subsequently released from an Iowa hospital and was back in the clubhouse on Thursday. Hart is expected to miss some time recovering. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? In the 2.2 IPs before taking the shot to the noggin Hart had given up 4 hits and 1 run while walking 2 and striking out 1.

Felix Pie:
Is Pie finally starting to put things back together? Over the last 10 games, Pie is 12-36, hitting .333 with a HR and only 4 Ks. On the 16th, Pie drove in 4 runs all by hims self. The run as pushed is Iowa season average above the Mendoza line, finally, to .225. Nothing great, still, but the K numbers are down and he seems to be hitting the ball a bit better. Per this article in the Des Moines Register, Pie says he's feeling much more comfortable at the plate. I'm still rooting for this kid, let's hope he keeps it up.

Rich Hill: Hill hasn't had a go since 6/11 when he only lasted 4 innings, giving up 3 runs, and walking 6. Hill will look to bounce back tonight against the New Orleans Zephyrs. Wondering what the hell a Zephyr is like I was? Well, apparently they're named after some "famous" train called the Denver Zephyr. The name is a holdover from the club's days in Denver, CO. That's why you log in to Towel Drills every day, folks. Hard-hittin' stuff like that.

Eric Patterson: Tough luck prospect EPat has now played 2 games since being sent down for Matt Murton a couple days ago. Patterson went oh-fur in his first game, but bounced back Thursday with a 2 for 4 with a homer performance.

Sean Marshall: The Cubs current 6th starter Sean Marshall has made 2 starts since coming off the DL on June 9th. Marshall went 5 innings his first time out, giving up 2 runs, stiking out 3, and walking 1. On Thursday, Marshall lasted a full 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits, 1 run, and 1 BB, while K-ing 4. Pretty impressive work from Marshall, all MarshallFans would be proud. For his efforts it looks like Marshall will be getting at least one start with the Cubs in place of Carlos Zambrano on Tuesday.

Bonus: In case you missed it, check out this article about the crazy Iowa Cubs game on the 14th. Due to the flooding and subsquent warnings in Des Moines, no fans were admitted to the ballpark to watch the game. The game was played in front of only the teams, the staffs, and some scattered scouts and maembers of the media.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES
Tyler Colvin: Time for Tyler to get a late, and extended, Spring Break in Dirt-tona Beach. The hitting woes have continued for the young Cubs prospect. Over the last 10 days, Colvin is rocking out with his .175 BA out with no HRs and 5 Ks in 40 ABs. That leaves his season BA at .233 with 5 dongs and 61 Ks in 279 ABs. Colvin is only 22 (about the same age as Pie), but I really had to resist the urge not to type "suspect" instead of "prospect" just now.

Donnie Veal: First off, his name bugs me. Donnie Veal sounds like some sort of Jersey low-rent mobster. Donald Veal. Fine. Don Veal. Fine. But Donnie? Seriously? Anyway, Donald Tyrone Veal (yep, that's his real middle name) had a hell of a start last time out on the 17th. 7 IP. 2 Hs. 0 ERs. Well done. Throw in only 2 BBs to 6 Ks and Tyrone is on to something. On the season's 15 starts, Veal now has an ERA of 2.82 with 65 Ks in 79.2 innings. He has walked 42, but most young pitchers tend to do so. Once they start eliminating those, that's when the put it all together. Tyrone looks like he could be a good one.

Jeff Samardzija: Jeff ND had a pretty good week over 2, well, 1 and a half, starts. On 6/13 ND went 3 IPs before being interrupted by an hour long rain delay. He didn't come back out after the delay. Over the 3 innings, ND didn't allow any runs, gave up a single hit, walked 2 and struck out 1. In his 2nd start of the week, Samardzija built on his shortened success from the previous start. A full 7 IPs, 2 Ernies, 3 walks, 2 Ks. The run has dropped ND's ERA to 4.86.

Jose Ceda: Ceda has been moved from starting to relieving, possibly permanently. The Cubs see Ceda as a full-time reliever and, possibly, a closer down the road (but what full-time minor league reliever isn't looked at as the future Dennis Eckersly?) Ceda made 2 relief appearances with the Smokies since being bumped up from Daytona. Over a total of 3.1 IPs, Ceda allowed only 1 R while walking nobody and K-ing 6.

Wellington Castillo: Catching prospect Wellington Castillo is absolutely ripping things up in Tennessee. Over the past 10 games, homeboy is hitting .353 with 6 Ribs, a HR, and 3 doubles. This after Castillo was bumped up to the Smokies after playing his first 33 games with Daytona.

Bonus: The Smokies have a lot of "Oh yeah...that guy"'s on their squad. Not necessarily "prospects," but just guys I haven't thought about in a while. Let's see how a couple of them are doing this year: Sam Fuld, hitting a lowly .227 with a terrible .620 OPS in 119 ABs; Doug Deeds, the PTBNL from the Craig Monroe deal is raking-hitting .302 with an .864 OPS in 189 ABs and is tied for the team lead with 5 HRs.

DAYTONA CUBS
Tony Thomas: Thomas continues to roll-he's hitting .311 over the past 10 games and is working on an 11 game hitting streak. He has struck out 12 times in 45 ABs though. He really needs to cut down on that. Thomas now has 60 Ks over 248 ABs on the year.

Bonus: Italian Stallion (sorry) Alex Maestri struck out 10 in only 6 innings of work on the 18th. Even better? He didn't walk any. Maestri did give up 2 runs, but the the win helped the Daytona Cubs finish the first half of their season at an even .500 (which is apparently big news). Maestri was pitching in his first outing since the Florida State League All-Star Game last Saturday. Joining Alex at the All-Star Game from Daytona were OF Jim Adduci, C Wellington Castillo, IF Tony Thomas, and P Casey Lambert.

PEORIA CHIEFS
Josh Donaldson: The Chiefs just wrapped up the first half of their season and had a few days off. As a result, Donaldson only played 1 game since Lionel's last ATAtM, going 1-3. He's hitting .204 on the year with 5 HRs in 186 ABs.

Bonus: With the half-season break, not much going on here. So check out these sweet ass 1908 replica Cubs jersies that the Chiefs will be wearing on 6/20.

BOISE HAWKS
Josh Vitters: The "Boys of Boise" (Trademark-Jumbo-2008) got their season rolling this week. I hear that Lionel is going to whip up a nice little column for us all about the start of the Hawks season and the roster they were assigned, etc., but he's currently being very selfish by spending an entire week on his honeymoon instead of posting that. Vitters is off to a 2 for 7 start over his 2 games. Also of note, Vitters is the highest drafted player assigned to Boise in the 8 years they've been affiliated with the Cubs. The reason for this seems to be the tendinitis Vitters has been battling in his left hand while playing earlier in the year with Peoria.

Bonus: As covered in this week's Minor League Movers, Hawks SS Jake Opitz had one hell of a professional debut. Coming in as a pinch runner late in the Hawks' first game, Opitz had his first professional AB in the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied. Opitz wasted no time ingraining himself in Boise Hawks lore as he belted a walk-off HR with his first pro AB. Not bad.

your favorite backup relief pitcher of the early 90's...

Kevin "De Wayne" Blankeship...
Born January 26, 1963, De Wayne was a career 4.59 pitcher and lead the Cubs with one of the top 3 moustaches during his tenure with the ball club.


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Zambrano Leaves Game with "Shoulder Discomfort"

Yuh-yo. Carlos Zambrano was pulled from tonight's 5-4 L to the Rays in the 7th inning with what is being termed as "right shoulder discomfort." Z had made it through 6 and 2/3 innings and had thrown 100 pitches. Doesn't seem to be much word as yet on the extent of the problems, or if any truly exist. I'll imagine the team will further examine Z tomorrow and we should know more in the next day or two. Stay tuned. (Actually-just heard on Sportscenter that Z is leaving the team to fly back to Chi-Town to have his shoulder examined. And BBTN says Z will definitely be getting an MRI on Thursday. Precautionary or is it time to worry here?)

In other news from tonight's game...
  • Jim Edmonds also left early with left foot soreness being blamed on the number of artificial turf games the Cubs have had of late.
  • With Reed Johnson banged up, Sweet Lou started Fukudome in the leadoff spot tonight and says he's the leadoff man until Soriano returns from the DL, at least. Well...that was quick. Too much roster tinkering lately, Lou.

Minor League Movers

With Lionel on some beach on his honeymoon, time for Jumbo to rock out the MLM column for you this week. I'm sure I won't be able to accomplish the same level of genius as Mr. Hutz, but let's give 'er a go...

IOWA CUBS
Handful of moves in Des Moines over the past week. We've already covered some of the shuffling with Hoffpauir and EPat coming up with Soriano going on the DL and Hart getting shipped out of Chicago. We've also hit on the move that sent Patterson back to Iowa in exchange for The Big Murt. But what else went down this week? Well, Ben Broussard landed w/ Iowa after being signed to a minor league deal last week. Well, Broussard was originally sent to Iowa, but then went to Tennessee so that he could get some ABs while the flooding in Iowa was preventing him from doing so. Broussard is in Iowa now and through his first 2 games has gone 0-7. Kevin Hart joined him on the trip to the Smokies. Both should be back in Iowa soon. In one final move, Andres Torres has made his way back from the DL to rejoin the team.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES
Turns out Tennessee did make some moves the week before last after all. On June 10th Grant Johnson got kicked back to Daytona to make room for Rocky Roquet coming down from Iowa. Roquet had begun the year with the Smokies but found himself in Daytona after starting off with a 5.84 ERA in 12 and 1/3 IPs. On the 13th, Matt Craig went on the DL with a strained back. And the same day Broussard showed up as noted above. In only 2 games with Tennessee, Broussard went 2-9 with a dong. Tanner Watson was released by the Cubs organization after his 1-3 5.65 ERA effort over 57 IPs with the Smokies. Word is Watson will be signing with the Ottowa Rapidz (yeah, with a "z". C'mon, it's "hip"). RP's Greg Reinhard and Jessee Estrada were moved to Iowa, and I'm not quite sure just way. Those moves left the Smokies' roster at 2 below the limit of 24. To fill those spots, youngsters Esmailin Caridad and Jose Ceda were bumped up from Daytona in an effort to bolster the pitching staff. The Smokies' 27-43 record was the team's worst since 1991.

DAYTONA CUBS
Not much action out of Dirt-tona this week. Other than what's already been covered, Adam Harben re-joined the squad from the DL. Seems like he's been battling right elbow issues after missing most of 2007 having surgery on the joint. Matt Avery also was bumped down a run from Tennessee, I'm assuming as part of the moves noted above.

PEORIA CHIEFS
Not much goin' on with Ryno's boys this week. They must have been working hard though. They're now out of the basement, for the time being anyway, by a .5 game with a record of 30-38.

BOISE HAWKS
Boise's season kicked off on Tuesday with a 6-5 win over Eugene Emeralds. (God, I love minor league ball. What a great team name.) How about this for a story: this game was won with a walk-off HR by SS Jake Opitz who was making his professional baseball debut after being drafted in the 12th round of this year's MLB draft out of Nebraska. Opitz entered the game as a pinch runner and the HR was his only at bat. 1 AB in pro ball. 1 game winning walk off. Welcome to the organization kid.

In other news for the Hawks, they've been assigned 4 Cubs 1st round draft picks in Josh Vitters, Mark Pawelek, Kyle Burke, and Ryan Flaherty. Michael Brenly has also been assigned to the Hawks.

Matt Murton Called Up, Eric Patterson Sent Down

The Big Murt is back. For the 2nd time this season (the 1st being April 19th) the Cubs have recalled Matt Murton from Iowa at the expense of Eric Patterson. And this time, you're never going to guess why.

Get this...the Cubs have called on Murton this time around because they've decided that they need a right handed bat. Are ya kiddin' me? All year all we've heard about is how the Cubs are "too" right handed. Damn near every roster decision has been made in the shadow of "We gotta get another left-handed bat in here." Now we're too left handed?

Murton got right into the action, starting in tonight's 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Ray's against Rays starting lefty Scott Kazmir. This move would make more sense to me if the Cubs had a bunch of lefty starters lined up in the next few days. But, I just checked. The Cubs are scheduled to face only 2 lefties in their next 8 games (Righties Andy Sonnanstine and James Shields vs. the Rays, then lefty John Danks with the ChiSox, then back to righties Jose Contreras and Javier Vazquez before an off day, then righty Jeremy Guthrie with Baltimore, lefty Brian Burress, and another righty Radhames Liz [who is apparently a major league pitcher]). And that takes us through 6/26. Where's the additional need for a left-handed stick?

I said here on June 11th that if the Cubs didn't call up Murton after Soriano that someone would have to explain to me why we're keeping the guy around. Thinking about this move...I think I got the answer to that question tonight. Answer: we're not keeping Murton around. Not for much longer anyway. Mark it down and remember that you heard it here first kids-the only reason the Cubs swapped out Patterson for Murton today is that other MLB teams are asking to see Murton play at the major league level because he will soon be included as part of a deal that brings a starting pitcher to the Cubs.

Performance isn't the reason: Patterson was hitting .326 with a .875 OPS and 5 HRs for Iowa at the time he was called up. Murton was only hitting .311 with an OPS of .811 and showing no power with only 1 HR in a comparable number of ABs to Patterson. Since Patterson's call, he was 2 for 8 with a Rib and 2 Ks and was generally holding his own. Positional availability isn't the reason: Murton can really only play LF and RF. We've got plenty of guys that can play the corners. Patterson can play LF, but can also play CF and 2B.

If the Cubs had a bunch of lefties ahead of them and were genuinely concerned about the number of right handed hitters we had available, maybe I'd believe this one. But they don't. And so I don't. This move doesn't make a whole lot of sense and, frankly, stinks. It's got to be simply to show clubs that Murton isn't a complete deadbeat at the plate at the major league level.

We'll get some more up on some Cubs trade rumors I'm hearing this week, but for now, I'm going to go get my "I told you so" party supplies.

Short Hop

If you're a Cubs fan and you're a lawyer, like we here at Towel Drills are, then you've just got to pass on a link like this from UniWatch. Cubs, trademark law...mmmmmmm boy. Now that's good stuff.

Back Off the Wagon

Off the wagon, that's the one where you're drinking again, right? Yeah. Ok. Anyway...Wondering where your Towel Drills staff has been the last couple of days? Well...we were attending Lionel's commitment ceremony (see photo, above; Lionel at left). Gorgeous ceremony. Great time. A very special Towel Drills congrats to Lionel and Frank on their special day.

Now we're back and ready to provide you with the hardcore Cubs news you've come to expect. Let's kick off the week with a notes column:
  • 69 sucks. The Cubs were rained out today, on their "off day," at what was to be the 69th (and final ever) Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown. Why is MLB putting the kibosh on the HOF game? "Scheduling problems." Yeah...scheduling problems like the Cubs, stuck up in Canada the last three weeks after a 3 game home "stand" being forced to go to New York for 1 freaking exhibition game before being sent to Florida for 3 straight the very next day and then back to Chicago for 3 starting the day after those end. "Scheduling problems." Yeah. I'm sure the HOF game is great and all, but throwing an exhibition game in the middle of a team's schedule and then scheduling games the days directly before and after is ridiculous. Good riddance HOF game. Bleed Cubbie Blue author Al disagrees with me on this. He made a trip out to Cooperstown for the game and paints a rosier picture. If you want to see some great pics of the rain, um, raining on the parade of the HOF game, go check those out here.
  • Turns out I've got to run off to a softball game right now, but stay tuned this week for some juicy Cubs trade rumor action.
  • Oh...and no, that's not really Lionel up there. But he did get married last weekend. To a real, live girl that he didn't even have to order off the internet or anything. Congrats Lionel.