Carlos Zambrano (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)
Right-hander Carlos Zambrano probably will not compete in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela. The Cubs are relieved about that, mainly because Zambrano's right shoulder acted up on him more than once last season.
During recent weeks, Zambrano has been battling an eye infection, for which he's taking eye drops. He also said he is still considering laser surgery to correct a vision problem.
"The doctors said I was supposed to have an eye (shaped) like a baseball, and my right eye is like a football," Zambrano said. "That's something that I have to correct. I may do it. I don't know yet. There's a small a chance I'll do it right now, or I'll do it during the season. Let's see how the drops work."
Zambrano added that his shoulder is fine, saying he had as much rest this winter as he's had in any offseason he's been in baseball. The Cubs sent one of their trainers to Venezuela to work on Zambrano's shoulder strength.
Zambrano, 27, has made four consecutive Opening Day starts for the Cubs. Although he admits to getting too amped up for Opening Day, he said he'd like to start again this year. Manager Lou Piniella has not announced an Opening Day starter. Right-hander Ryan Dempster emerged as the Cubs' No. 1 starter late last season.
--RHP Carlos Marmol said he would talk with the Cubs but that he would like to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Marmol appeared in 82 games for the Cubs last season. He'll battle this spring with RHP Kevin Gregg to be the closer. The Cubs were concerned enough about Marmol that they asked him to cut short his winter-ball season back home. Marmol complied.
--C Geovany Soto said his left hand is 100 percent. Soto suffered tenderness in the hand late last season, suffering the injury while swinging the bat. The hand bothered him into November, but he said he has "felt nothing whatsoever for a month or two months now."
--Gregg has recovered fine from minor offseason knee surgery, Cubs officials said. They also said they'll go easy on him during fielding drills and be cautious with Gregg moving from side to side.
--OF Kosuke Fukudome will not join the Cubs until after Team Japan is done in the World Baseball Classic. The Asian teams open WBC play overseas, but Cubs GM Jim Hendry said the Cubs have monitored Fukudome's progress all winter and that they'll have scouts in Asia watching the early games. Fukudome's offense collapsed in the second half of last season. Fukudome is expected to share time in center field with Reed Johnson.
--LF Alfonso Soriano is expected to be the Cubs' leadoff man again. Talk of moving Soriano down in the order intensified after last fall's playoff collapse; Soriano is a combined 3-for-28 in the last two NL Division Series. Piniella notes, however, the Cubs won back-to-back division titles with Soriano as their primary leadoff man. On top of that, Soriano has a professed comfort level with batting first, and the Cubs don't seem to want to upset that.