DENVER – Jonathan Pettibone’s difficult outing in Coors Field on Saturday has led to some speculation that the Phillies might bring Carlos Zambrano to the majors for a start later this week.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Sunday that Zambrano was not ready to pitch in the majors.
“Not based on what I saw his last outing, not in my mind,” Amaro said. “I’d like to see him pitch again [in the minors]. We’ll keep a close eye on his starts and how effective he is. But he’s not ready yet in my mind.”
Zambrano, 32, went unsigned this winter. The Phillies signed him in mid-May to see if he could provide some depth for a pitching staff that lost Roy Halladay and John Lannan to injury earlier in the season. Lannan has recovered from a quadriceps strain and will return to the rotation Monday night against Washington in Philadelphia.
Zambrano has made four official minor-league starts, two in Single A, one at Double A and one at Triple A. In 21 1/3 innings, he has allowed 14 hits and three earned runs, but he has walked 11 while striking out 17. In his last start at Triple A Lehigh Valley, he allowed four hits and four walks while striking out five in five innings. Scouts who’ve seen Zambrano say his fastball has only been in the mid-80s and he’s relied a lot on off-speed stuff.
“Right now he’s just getting his rhythm back,” Amaro said. “He hasn’t even had what amounts to a full spring training yet.”
Zambrano is 132-91 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 big-league seasons. However, he went 16-17 with a 4.66 ERA the last two seasons with the Cubs and Marlins. He can opt out of his Phillies minor-league contract if he is not in the majors by July 1.
Will he get there eventually?
“It all depends on how he pitches,” Amaro said. “If we think he can help us, we’ll bring him.”
Zambrano is scheduled to pitch Tuesday at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Pettibone, 22, made his major-league debut in April, replacing Lannan. His first nine starts were commendable – he went 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA and the Phils were 7-2 in those starts. He has struggled in his last two starts, losing both while giving up 14 hits and 10 earned runs in 8 1/3innings.
Pettibone’s turn comes up Friday against the Mets at home.
“Right now he’s our starter,” Amaro said. “We’ve made no change in our rotation. As far as I know, he’ll take his turn on Friday.”