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.
MIAMI – Jon Jay walked into a quiet clubhouse late Sunday morning, turned right and headed directly toward the sound system in one corner of the room, plugging his phone into the sound system and playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”
The Cubs outfielder whistled as he changed into his work clothes at Marlins Park, singing along to the lyrics with Anthony Rizzo a few lockers over: “Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
That’s what the Cubs keep telling themselves, because most of them have World Series rings and the National League Central is such a bad division.
“The biggest thing is to keep the floaties on until we get this thing right,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 4-2 loss left the Cubs treading water again at 38-37. “We’re solvent. We’re right there. We’re right next to first place.”
The Cubs will leave this tropical environment and jump into the deep end on Monday night for the start of a four-game showdown against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.
Miami sunk the Cubs in the first inning when Addison Russell made a costly error on the routine groundball Miami leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki chopped to shortstop, a mistake that helped create three unearned runs. Martin Prado drilled Mike Montgomery’s first-pitch fastball off the left-center field wall for a two-out double and a 3-0 lead. Montgomery (1-4, 2.03 ERA) lasted six innings and retired the last 10 batters he faced.
“Keep The Floaties On” sounds like an idea for Maddon’s next T-shirt. The 2017 Cubs haven’t been more than four games over .500 or two games under .500 at any point this season. The 2016 Cubs didn’t lose their 37th game until July 19 and spent 180 days in first place.
“That’s what was so special about it,” Rizzo said. “We boat-raced from Game 1 to Game 7 with a couple bumps in the road, but this is baseball. It’s not going to be all smooth-sailing every day. You got to work through things.”
MIAMI – Injuries keep weighing the Cubs down as the defending World Series champs keep trying to finally take off this season.
All-Star shortstop Addison Russell exited Sunday’s game at Marlins Park with a sore right shoulder that has been bothering him off and on since at least since spring training.
Russell made a costly error on the groundball Miami leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki chopped in the first inning, a mistake that helped create three unearned runs in a 4-2 loss.
By the fourth inning, the Cubs rearranged their defense, with Javier Baez moving from second base to shortstop while Russell rested for a team that already has a World Series MVP (Ben Zobrist), Gold Glove outfielder (Jason Heyward) and Cy Young Award finalist (Kyle Hendricks) on the disabled list.
The lingering shoulder issue sidelined Russell in the middle of May – without a detour to the disabled list – and he eventually fell into a timeshare with Baez as he tried to get out of an offensive spiral while dealing with off-the-field issues.
Through her divorce attorney last week, Russell’s wife disclosed that she will not meet with Major League Baseball officials looking into an abuse allegation made by a third party on social media, a development that would significantly hinder the investigation.
Russell – who denied the accusation – wants to keep the focus on the field. He has actually seen an offensive turnaround since details from his private life became public, hitting .357 with four homers and 10 RBI in his previous 12 games.