Notes: Zambrano to slide back a day

Notes: Zambrano to slide back a day

PITTSBURGH -- Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano threw a bullpen session on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, and he will be penciled in to start Saturday's game at Wrigley Field against the White Sox.

Zambrano, who left his start last Saturday in Washington in the fourth inning with soreness below and above his elbow, was seeing how his arm would hold up.

"It went very well," pitching coach Larry Rothschild reported. "Short of throwing 100 pitches in a game, we tested it as much as we could, and there was absolutely nothing [wrong]. He threw the ball real well and he pushed it -- so there's not much more you can do, except have him start the game. And right now it looks like everything is fine."

Greg Maddux will start Friday's series opener with the White Sox, and Zambrano will be pushed back one day from his normal rotation to Saturday.

"That's basically what we needed to do, so that he could throw a good side [session] today," Rothschild explained of sliding Zambrano back a day. "[And] so that we could make sure that he was OK and could extend beyond what you normally would on the side."

Zambrano felt no pain during the bullpen session.

"You could see the way he threw the ball [that he wasn't in pain]," Rothschild observed. "If there was anything wrong, he was hiding it pretty well -- but it was full go and there were no repercussions at all."

Zambrano has said he wasn't going to miss a start. While Rothschild admires the competitive spirit, he still wanted to be cautious.

"Competitiveness is all the time; it's a full-time job," Rothschild stated. "We need to go about it like that. But it's good to see that he's ready to get out there, and we need to push it the whole way. Hopefully, he's OK and it isn't just going to be an inning-by-inning thing -- which it shouldn't be based on what we saw today and how quickly this went away.

"So hopefully he's fine and the rest of the year he's pain free."

Ramirez sits: After starting Tuesday night's game in Pittsburgh, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez was held out of the starting lineup on Wednesday. Ramirez aggravated his lower back when he dived to make a great play on a ground ball in the ninth inning on Tuesday. Jose Macias started in his place on Wednesday.

Ramirez wants to be in the lineup, but his back has been a nagging problem.

"I know he wants to be in there," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "That's not the question; the question is, how will we get him in there and then keep him in there? These nagging things, I'm sure have affected him and his output, and I can tell it's affected his swings.

"In this game, if you got skill, you are going to do what you usually do if nothing is wrong. If something's wrong, this game becomes very difficult, because you're trying to make adjustments and changes just to do what you do best and what comes natural to you."

   Aramis Ramirez  /   3B
Born: 06/25/78
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Baker is hoping Ramirez's back problems will disappear when the weather gets warmer.

"I'm sure the hot weather will help some of that," Baker explained. "That's the thing we wanted to get to the whole time -- make sure we get to the hot weather, and hopefully we will have a lot of that behind us when it gets here.

"I don't know when it's going to get here. It's May and it's kind of goes every other day. We're just hoping that hot weather helps him. Hot weather usually helps almost any injury that you may have, so I'm hoping we get there soon. I sure miss him."

Lee red hot: Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee went 4-for-4 against Pittsburgh on Tuesday with two homers and four RBIs, lifting the Cubs to a 4-3 victory. Lee's contribution has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"Thank goodness we've got Derrek Lee on our side," Cubs outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said. "He's doing some good stuff."

Barrett hurting: Catcher Michael Barrett was replaced by Henry Blanco in the bottom of the ninth inning in the Cubs' 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon.

Barrett left the game because of shoulder stiffness in his throwing arm.

"I'm going to go see the doctor [on Thursday]," Barrett reported. "I'm going to get him to check it out and make sure it's OK -- and maybe get on some anti-inflammatory and go from there."

Barrett said the shoulder has been bothering him for several days.

He said he wanted to do some extra throwing, "especially after the error I made against the Nationals."

"I wanted to just work on my throwing and clean it up a little bit," Barrett said, "and I might have done a little too much throwing. It's probably more fatigue from over-throwing."

George Von Benko is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.