Lou Confident Zambrano Can Help Bullpen

Zambrano in bullpen (AP)

Carlos Zambrano might not be thrilled with the idea, but Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he is certain that moving him from the No. 1 starter's role to the eighth-inning setup role is the right move.

Zambrano made his first relief appearance since 2002 Saturday night in Milwaukee, pitching 1 1/3 innings. He worked out of trouble in the seventh inning and gave up a harmless run in the eighth.

He did not wish to talk with reporters after Saturday's effort and avoided the media Sunday, too. Zambrano said last week in New York that he wanted to be in the rotation again at some point.

Piniella has talked carefully of the switch, but he said it had to be done because the Cubs' young bullpen had been struggling.

"With this situation with Carlos, I didn't push it," Piniella said. "I talked to him. It was a very amicable talk. That's all I can do. I can't do any more or any less. I don't want to keep addressing this every day. Let's just go forward and do the best we can, and that's all I can do."

The upshot, as far as Piniella is concerned, is that he does not have to put pressure on rookie relievers such as Justin Berg and James Russell in tight and late situations. The Cubs sent right-hander Jeff Samardzija to Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa over the weekend after he struggled.

"It gives us a whole, total different perspective and different look in the bullpen," Piniella said. "I think it's going to allow me to use the bullpen better. At the same time, I think it's going to boost everybody's confidence out there. It's got a lot of positive effects for us."

CUBS 12, BREWERS 2: The Cubs hit a season-high four home runs and pounded out 18 hits (also a season-high) to sweep the weekend series. Center fielder Tyler Colvin and right fielder Kosuke Fukudome each came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. Shortstop Ryan Theriot had five hits. Right-hander Randy Wells cruised through seven innings, giving up seven hits and both runs.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Samardzija will remain a relief pitcher instead of starting at Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa, according to Piniella. The Cubs optioned Samardzija to Iowa on Saturday when they activated Ted Lilly off the DL. Samardzija was 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA this year. The Cubs want him to be more aggressive on the mound. In previous years, he worked primarily as a starter in the minors but as a reliever with the big club.

--Theriot tied his career high with five hits. He also stole a base. He is batting .329 with an on-base percentage of .372.

"Good day," he said. "I was able to get on base and score some runs. Not personally, but everybody hit the ball. We're all swinging the bats good right now."

--Marlon Byrd got the day off despite having a four-game hitting streak and going 13-for-26 on the road trip. Piniella is rotating outfielders Alfonso Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome, Colvin and Xavier Nady.

"Because of the fact that we've got some depth in the outfield, I can rest these guys and keep them all nice and strong and healthy and hopefully more productive," Piniella said. "So far, they've all been really productive."

--Colvin started and went 3-for-4 with a single, a double and a home run. It was Colvin's third homer of the year and second of the series. He's 11-for-33 this season and seems to like the outfield rotation.

"I'm pretty comfortable with it," he said. "I've got to have the same mindset coming in here every day. I really don't know if I'm going to get a start or whether I'm going to come in during the seventh inning."

Colvin often replaces Alfonso Soriano in left field late in games.

--Esmailin Caridad, on the DL with a strained right forearm, is rehabbing in Arizona and could rejoin the Cubs by the weekend, Piniella said. Caridad has been on the DL since April 14 (retroactive to April 12).

--Fukudome reached base five of six times. He fell a triple short of the cycle. He has his batting average up to .333 (17-for-51) and his OBP up to .400.

--Geovany Soto went 2-for-4 with his second homer. After a slow start, he's hitting .366 (15-for-41). He and Derrek Lee are tied for the team lead in walks with 14.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- Number of two-out RBI Byrd had to lead the Cubs through the weekend. He had 14 RBI overall. His two-out RBI total put him five ahead of Lee.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Come on. Our bullpen was really too young. We had to shore it up, and we felt that Carlos was the guy to do it, and I'm convinced that he will do it, yes." -- Piniella, on moving Zambrano to the bullpen.

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