Manager Lou Piniella said he will have Zambrano throw 60-70 pitches during the team's off-day Monday and see how the converted reliever feels. Zambrano has made eight appearances as a setup man since April 22, but the team announced on Tuesday that it is planning to move him back to the starting rotation.
On Wednesday, Piniella clarified the next few steps of that process.
"We'll give him a little work between now and Sunday," Piniella said. "If we can stretch him out, we'll do that; if not, we'll use him in the bullpen. Monday, we'll throw a nice simulated game. It's a day off, he can throw 60-70 pitches, and then we'll see how he feels after that. We'll see if he needs one more good work day in a game or if he's ready. We'll make that determination next week."
Zambrano has a 6.23 ERA as a reliever and a 7.45 ERA in four starts this season. The Cubs placed him in a setup role in an effort to boost the 6-foot-5, 260-pound right-hander's sagging velocity. So far, the results have been mixed.
But Piniella was pleased with Zambrano's appearance in the ninth inning of Chicago's 6-2 win over Colorado on Tuesday, in which he threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
"If he goes out there in the rotation and throws the ball like he did last night, it's going to be a good situation for both Carlos and for us," Piniella said.