Notes: Zambrano awaits clearance

Notes: Zambrano awaits clearance

CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano says he will be starting on Sunday for the Cubs, no matter what.

"I'm pitching on Sunday. See you Sunday," Zambrano said after Friday's game, a 4-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cubs will make sure they get clearance from their medical team before giving Big Z the go-ahead. Zambrano has not pitched since Sept. 4, when he had to leave the game after 1 1/3 innings because of back spasms. The right-hander is 14-6 with a 3.50 ERA, and ranks among the National League leaders in wins, ERA, strikeouts (188), and opponents batting average against (.212).

"He has to get cleared by the doctors," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of Zambrano. "Medically, we have to make sure he's OK and not take any unnecessary risks."

Zambrano did take batting practice and threw in the bullpen on Friday.

"He wants to pitch," Baker said. "You can't blame guys for wanting to play because guys love to play and he loves to pitch. If he can pitch and he wants to pitch, why not let him pitch?"

Aches and pains: John Mabry spent a long day at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Thursday trying to figure out what was wrong with his left wrist. He injured it on Wednesday when he fell trying to get a ball, but stayed in the game.

On Wednesday, X-rays revealed a fracture. An MRI exam showed a strain. On Thursday, he had a CT scan. The diagnosis?

"I don't know what they're calling it," Mabry said. "Let's go with sprain, and a pretty nasty one, too.

"I'm not eligible today," Mabry said on Friday, "but I'll be there as fast as I can."

What is impressive is that he stayed in the game on Wednesday at first base.

"That was out of respect for Juan Pierre, who has been out there every day, and out of respect for [Aramis Ramirez], who has only missed four games, and out of respect for the guys who do it every day," Mabry said. "My job as a backup is to protect Derrek [Lee]. That's my job. It doesn't matter what happens to me. He has to be eligible to play."

Lee was not in the starting lineup on Friday. He was unavailable because of a family emergency, Baker said.

Rookie second baseman Ryan Theriot had the middle finger of his right hand wrapped after getting part of the nail torn off.

"It's a little swollen," Theriot said. "I don't think it's anything to worry about. I could probably go today. We'll see what happens."

The ball hopped up on him, which caused the injury.

"We have a couple more guys who are ailing," Baker said.

One guy who isn't is center fielder Pierre. He is the only Cub who has played in every game this season.

"Every time I want to give him a day off, he gets two or three hits," Baker said. "He lives exceptionally clean. He works hard. He's the first one here, whether it's a day game [or a] night game. He's a guy who all the young guys could emulate on how to take care of yourself and how to train properly to be healthy and play every day.

"To play center field and lead off and steal the bases he does year in and year out and there's no complaints about strength or legs -- this guy has more strength in his legs than anybody," Baker said.

Extra bases: Ryan Dempster didn't appear to be happy that Baker called on Bob Howry to close Thursday's game against the Dodgers. "He's been having a little tough luck lately," Baker said of Dempster. "He's supposed to be upset. I don't blame him for being upset. Sometimes, you have to go a different direction at that point in time. 'Demp' threw the ball well his last time out but didn't get any breaks behind him at all. I expect him to be back out there." ... Wade Miller will likely stay in the rotation. "It depends on how he feels," Baker said. ... The Cubs wives and Bank of America will host the fourth annual food drive on Saturday at Wrigley Field. Donations will be accepted from 1 p.m. CT until the third inning at the corner of Sheffield Avenue and Addison Street.

Facts and figures: Ramirez's three-run homer in the seventh inning with the Cubs trailing, 5-3, gave them a 6-5 victory over the Dodgers and gave Ramirez 100 RBIs. He had only 25 RBIs through the end of May to rank tied for 57th in the National League at that point. His 75 runs batted in since June 1 are tied for fifth-most in the National League behind Ryan Howard, Garrett Atkins, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman.

Ramirez has 33 doubles and 33 home runs with 15 games remaining. He's trying to become the sixth Cub ever to hit at least 35 doubles and 35 homers in the same season. Lee accomplished the feat last year.

On deck: Rookie Rich Hill (5-6, 4.60 ERA) will start Saturday in the second game of this weekend series with the Reds against left-hander Chris Michalak (1-2, 5.09 ERA). The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and Comcast Sports Net.

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