By Junae Bennett
Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano was hit in the face with a line drive not once, but twice Friday night while starting for Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Despite being hit in the face Zambrano picked up the ball and threw the first out.
He wasn't taken out of the game until he encountered another liner near his right ear in the fifth inning, then taken to the hospital.
Caribes general manager Sam Moscatel told the Chicago Tribune, "He's a bull. He's OK. We spoke (Friday) night after he had the surgery, and he said he wants to make his next start on Friday."
Moscatel also said Zambrano received 10 stitches at the hospital to close the wound.
Regardless of Zambrano's injury risk, the Cubs gave him permission to play in this winter league.
Zambrano said he has waited 14 years to get a liner off his face. It was his lucky day because he received two.
PITTSBURGH — The Cubs are downplaying the discomfort Jorge Soler has been feeling on his right side, saying the injury-prone outfielder should be cleared by this weekend and for what they hope will be a long run into October.
Soler stayed back in Chicago for another MRI and didn’t travel with the team to Pittsburgh, where the Cubs are trying to find the right balance between keeping players rested and sharp with a division title and the National League’s No. 1 seed already clinched.
“Nothing horrible,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday at PNC Park. “Nothing to be highly concerned about. But we kept him back for the test.”
Soler — who had already gotten an initial scan — didn’t play in five consecutive games (Sept. 17-21). He then pinch-hit against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday and started in right field the next day at Wrigley Field.
“The side bothers him,” Maddon said. “It wasn’t bad. I know that.”
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A series of injuries have stalled Soler’s career — he missed almost two months this season with a strained left hamstring — but there is no denying his immense talent, right-handed power and age-24 potential.
Built like an NFL linebacker, Soler is hitting .240 with 12 homers, 31 RBIs and a .773 OPS in 85 games, making him a physical presence in the lineup that opponents have to respect.
Whether or not you believe in the concept of clutch hitting, Soler played a big role in knocking the Cardinals out of last year’s playoffs, setting a new major-league record by getting on base in his first nine career postseason plate appearances and launching two homers in four games.
CSN's David Kaplan hosts a discussion with today's panel: Ravi Baichwal from ABC 7, David Haugh lead columnist from the Chicago Tribune, and Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times. The group discusses the Cubs reaching 100 wins on the season, talk Jay Cutler's future as Bears QB, and Scott Paddock stops by to talk NASCAR.
Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: