'Z' Set to Rejoin Rotation, But Who Leaves?

The Cubs are set to add Carlos Zambrano to the rotation and worry about the consequences later. Zambrano, the Opening Day starter who was sent to the bullpen in late April, could make one more relief appearance as early as Thursday and then start next week in Pittsburgh.

That was the plan laid out by manager Lou Piniella on Tuesday, one day after Zambrano pitched a simulated game. The Cubs will have to move one of their five starters to the bullpen once Zambrano goes back to the rotation, but Piniella doesn't let on like that will be a problem.

"We don't have to concern ourselves with it until next week," Piniella said. "We've got some days off coming up. It'll be a fairly smooth transition."

Starters Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Randy Wells seem set in the rotation, as does the surprising Carlos Silva, who is 6-0 since coming over from the American League. The odd man out could be lefty Tom Gorzelanny.

According to general manager Jim Hendry, all options are open when Zambrano starts again, and even after that.

"Whoever goes out of the rotation I'm sure will end up getting back in at some time," Hendry said. "That's the way the game is."

As for Zambrano, he was neither happy nor comfortable as a reliever.

"I'm ready for anything," Zambrano said. "This is the big leagues. Guys in the big leagues have to be able to do anything they ask for."

CUBS 3, DODGERS 0: Ryan Dempster earned his first win since April 23 by pitching eighth shutout innings and giving up three hits. Derrek Lee drove in all three runs, with a single in the sixth and a two-run homer in the eighth. Carlos Marmol worked a perfect ninth for his 10th save.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Aramis Ramirez did not start for a second consecutive game as he nurses a bruise between his left thumb and forefinger. The Cubs said they have no plans to put Ramirez on the disabled list but that he is day-to-day. Ramirez is batting .160 and hasn't looked good at the plate all season.

"I'm sure it had some effect," Piniella said. "How much, only Ramirez can tell. I'm sure the discomfort in the hand certainly hasn't helped."

--Gorzelanny said his left ring finger is a "non-issue," and he'll start Wednesday against the Dodgers. Gorzelanny was hit by a batted ball last week in Philadelphia. He threw side sessions in Chicago and reported no problems. Lilly will pitch Thursday's series finale.

--Xavier Nady made his third consecutive start in right field and his fourth overall. He was the DH in Friday's series opener at Texas. Nady is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, and it's been a slow go since spring training.

"We're getting close to the Indy 500," Piniella said. "That means that summer is well on its way. I would think that he'll be ready for a lot more duty than he has been."

--Lee was 3-for-3 with a walk. He entered the game batting .218 and finished the night at .231. Lee has had many slow starts in his career, but he often heats up with the weather.

"I've had a lot of slow starts in my career," he said. "I wish I understood why. Hopefully, I do heat up and start to help this team. It felt good to have a game and contribute to a win."

--Dempster snapped a personal four-game losing streak. He threw 104 pitches over eight innings and retired the last 13 batters he faced.

"What was frustrating about not winning many games was that we weren't winning as a team when I was pitching," he said.

Dempster is 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA.

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