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Zambrano on path to rotation?

Carlos Zambrano's days as a set-up man are over.

Manager Lou Piniella said after Monday’s game that Zambrano will go into a long reliever’s role. The next step most likely will be returning to the rotation.

“We are changing Zambrano’s role,” Piniella said. “We thought the outcome would be a little different. He’s not as comfortable pitching short. We’re going to use him in a different role. Get him some stamina and build up his arm. That’s what we’re going to do.”

I asked Piniella if Zambrano’s next step is to go back to the rotation.

“The next step? Probably down the road, yes,” Piniella said.

Zambrano is willing to fill any role that the team presents to him, but he did say that he had a meeting with Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild before Monday’s game and they told him he’s being stretched out.

“He told me that today,” Zambrano said. “We had a long conversation with the pitching coach. The trainer put me back in the rotation. I just want to help the team. If they want to send me to the minor leagues to work, I’ll work in the minor leagues. If they want me to work here, I’ll work here.

Zambrano was asked what transpired in the meeting.

“[Piniella] told me today there may be a chance I’ll go back to the rotation. We’ll see how everything works out in the next few days for me.”

Of the 91 starters who’ve made 30 or more starts since Opening Day 2009, Zambrano is tied for 73rd in wins, and is 52nd in ERA. Over a 41-game stretch of starts from Aug. 3, 2008 until Zambrano went into the bullpen April 24, his record was 12-11 with a 4.77 ERA, averaging 5.2 innings per start.

Zambrano will be the long man for tomorrow’s game and said he’ll pitch 40 or 45 pitches out of the bullpen if necessary.

  • Carlos Marmol now has 38 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings pitched. That’s an average of almost 18 strikeouts per nine innings.

  • Rookie shortstop Starlin Castro has reached base safely in nine of his 10 major league games. Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome has reached base safely in 18 of his last 19 starts.

  • Sean Marshall, who tossed two shutout innings on Monday has held opponents scoreless in 11 out of his last 12 appearances.