Big Z day to day, unlikely to start 'til next week

Big Z day to day, unlikely to start 'til next week

CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano, who needed 10 stitches to fix a cut after he was hit in the face by a line drive, is not expected to pitch until next week in Winter League action to give him time to heal.

According to a report out of Venezuela, Zambrano was to see a doctor on Friday and might be available to start for Caribes next Tuesday. His status is day to day.

The Cubs' right-hander had his best outing in Venezuela last Friday, giving up one unearned run on two hits and two walks over five innings for Caribes, but had to leave the game after he was hit by Ezequiel Carrera's liner.

This was Zambrano's third start in Venezuela and his first since meeting Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in Chicago.

Epstein and the pitcher had lunch Nov. 14 near Wrigley Field, and the message to Zambrano was that he had to earn his way back. Zambrano last pitched for the Cubs on Aug. 12, serving up five home runs to the Braves before he was ejected for throwing inside to Chipper Jones. Zambrano left the ballpark, telling teammates he was retiring.

Zambrano is under contract next season for $18 million, and has a full no-trade clause.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.