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Big goal: Cleaning up the pen


Big goal: Cleaning up the pen
A couple days after threatening to remake the entire bullpen, Cubs manager Lou Piniella came back Tuesday after an off-day in a more upbeat mood.

Maybe a hockey game had something to do with it.

"I didn?t think much about anything yesterday, I?ll be honest with you," Piniella said. "I watched the Blackhawks play, and that was fun, exciting, great for the city. With the bullpen, we?ve got a decision to make, or two. We just brought in (Jose) Ascanio. We?ll see how he does. He?s got a good arm. We?ll pitch him middle (relief).

"(Angel) Guzman has done a really, really nice job. When (Carlos) Zambrano comes back next week, we?ve got to look at what we do in the rotation. One piece will stay in the rotation, and the other to the bullpen. So it?s looking better to me. That?s the biggest chore that we have here, to put together a solid bullpen that can function for the rest of the summer."

Zambrano, the ace starter, will pitch a rehab game Saturday or Sunday for Class A Daytona and rejoin the Cubs in St. Louis next week as he completes his stint on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Piniella said Zambrano likely will start the series opener in San Diego on May 22.

Once Zambrano is ready, either Randy Wells or lefty Sean Marshall will go to the bullpen. The likely candidate is Wells, but if Neal Cotts continues to struggle as the lone left-handed reliever, Piniella might be tempted to move Marshall to the pen. Wells and Marshall will start the first two games, respectively, against the Astros this weekend.

No word: The Cubs hadn?t heard from Major League Baseball on the appeal of Milton Bradley?s two-game suspension for a confrontation with an umpire.

"Hopefully, it (the suspension) will be reduced," said Lou Piniella. "That was the full intention of the appeal."

Piniella also said he had no idea why the Milwaukee Brewers want MLB to look into Ryan Dempster hitting the Brewers? Ryan Braun with a pitch over the weekend. The ball was headed toward the head of Braun, who was squaring to bunt, but it looked like it hit his bat even though umpires ruled he was hit.

"I was surprised to hear about it today," Piniella said. "We never even gave it a second thought."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 14, 2009

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