Notes: Zambrano needs quiet time

Notes: Zambrano needs quiet time

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs want Carlos Zambrano to limit his time on the computer and in batting practice. Getting the right-hander to do what, they say, is another story.

Zambrano's elbow problem, which wasn't a problem on Saturday when he threw seven scoreless innings for the Cubs against the Chicago White Sox, is believed to be a non-throwing injury. It knocked him out of his previous start after 3 1/3 innings and was described as tennis elbow. At last check, Zambrano isn't playing tennis.

Zambrano admitted he spends four to five hours a day on the computer sending messages to his brother and others in Venezuela.

"I've been on the computer a lot," Zambrano said Sunday. "They say that's the cause of the soreness in my elbow."

Not exactly.

"It's not carpal tunnel [syndrome]," Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal said. "To sit there and say it's a computer issue, that's not 100 percent true. It's tennis elbow. It could be from batting. There's no telling where it came from."

If Zambrano is supposed to cut back on BP, he isn't listening to the doctor's advice. He was taking his hacks on Sunday. He does plan to cut back on the computer time.

"I'll be in control," Zambrano said. "I spent four hours. Now, I'll have to spend one hour and take it easy."

"The thing I've seen about people on the computer and the Internet is that it's addicting," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We told him not to get on it, and you turn around and he's on the computer."

Baker's wife, Melissa, took charge. A former accountant for the Gap, she had a similar problem with her forearm and elbow.

"My wife took it upon herself, being the team player that she is, she went and bought -- on my credit card -- a whole bunch of ergonomics stuff," Baker said. "She got wrist guards, elbow guards, a wireless mouse, different pads."

Baker had carpal tunnel syndrome himself, brought on by too much writing. The Cubs think Zambrano's cramps last season and early this year may have been caused by this and not dehydration, which the team originally thought was the problem.

"We're searching for clues," Baker said. "We were alarmed when the doctor said it was a non-throwing injury."

After Saturday's game, when Zambrano threw 108 pitches, he said he knew it was time to come out of the game to avoid Baker getting criticized for letting the right-hander throw too many pitches.

"That's noble and bold," Baker said, "but I can take care of myself."

Gamesmanship: The Cubs wanted Minor League baserunning instructor Vince Coleman on the bench during this series to get a better look at the Cubs players. But the White Sox denied the request to have an extra coach on the Cubs bench. After all, city bragging rights are on the line.

"They can allow a guy to be on the bench if you get permission, which we tried to get [Saturday] and it was denied by Kenny," Baker said of White Sox general manager Kenny Williams.

Was Baker surprised the White Sox said no?

"Not really," Baker said. "[Coleman] wasn't here to analyze their guys, as stated. He was here to help and analyze our guys."

And if the White Sox asked for an extra coach?

"I don't care," Baker said. "I told them they can have Casey Stengel over there if they want to. It doesn't matter. A lot of times you can tell guys things. It doesn't mean you're going to get it. Quite often, guys don't get it until later."

Coleman and Williams reportedly had a heated discussion behind the batting cage prior to Saturday's game.

   Michael Barrett  /   C
Born: 10/22/76
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Day to day: Catcher Michael Barrett said Sunday his right shoulder was better, but he was still only available as a possible pinch-hitter. Henry Blanco started for the third straight game behind the plate, but the Cubs were short-handed.

"I hate to put [Baker] in that situation, but I wanted him to know I could hit," Barrett said.

"Everything's been going great today," Barrett said. "All the treatment is great. My arm feels 100 percent."

He was able to hit soft toss on Saturday, but said the shoulder only bothers him when he's throwing, not hitting.

"He tested it today and he said he's feeling better," Baker said. "Hopefully, he'll be ready by the Astros series [which starts Monday]."

Aches and pains: Nomar Garciaparra (groin) is in the initial stages of physical therapy in Arizona. He is not ready to begin baseball-related activities. ... Right-hander Kerry Wood (shoulder) is "starting from scratch," Baker said. "As far as a timetable, I really don't know," Baker said. ... Todd Walker (left knee) could join the big league team by the middle of the week if he continues to progress. He ended an 0-for-19 Minor League rehab stint with three hits on Saturday. ... Right-hander Angel Guzman (right forearm) is still sidelined and most likely will not be ready to pitch in a game until July.

Good luck charm: If the Cubs are superstitious, Tom Hellman will be the bat boy on Monday.

Hellman, known to everyone as Otis, was the bat boy on Sunday when the Cubs beat the White Sox, 4-3. Hellman is in his sixth season as the home clubhouse manager after spending 17 years as the visiting clubhouse manager. He took on the extra duties Sunday to help the Cubs change their luck.

Hellman guessed it was the first time he's been a bat boy since 1976, when he worked in Cincinnati.

"I might lose some weight if we roll off a streak of 10, 12 in a row," Hellman said Sunday.

Extra bases: Sergio Mitre will start on Tuesday for the Cubs against Houston, making his 12th big league start and first this year. Mitre was 3-4 with a 4.60 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Iowa, giving up 23 earned runs on 49 hits and 14 walks over 45 innings. Mitre has struck out 37. A roster move will be made before Tuesday's game. ... If you want to tune up for the seventh-inning stretch, the singer for Tuesday night will be Nascar driver Jeff Gordon. Former Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps will sing on Wednesday. Kathy and Judy from WGN Radio will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on Thursday, NIU football coach Joe Novak on Friday, former Cub Mickey Morandini on Saturday, and members of the University of Illinois basketball team on Sunday. ... Left-hander Darren Oliver, who was 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA in three starts for Iowa, has left the team. He had an out in his contract that allows him to leave.

Minor matters: Bobby Brownlie gave up one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings in Iowa's 8-1 win over Fresno on Saturday. Walker was 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Scott McClain hit a three-run homer. ... Ricky Nolasco gave up one run on six hits over seven innings while striking out six in West Tenn's 4-1 win over Birmingham. Felix Pie was 1-for-6 with a triple. Buck Coats went 5-for-6. ... Anderson Tavares gave up four runs on five hits over five innings in Class A Daytona's 5-4 win over Clearwater. ... Eric Patterson was 2-for-3 with the game-winning triple in Peoria's 1-0 win over Dayton.

On deck: The Cubs play host to the Houston Astros for three games, all under the lights, starting Monday. Houston started Sunday 2-18 in road games. Glendon Rusch will open the series on Monday. The Cubs are 1-2 so far against the Astros this year.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.