Z-Train Derailed? Carlos Zambrano Struggles in Latest Minor League Start

Z-Train Derailed? Carlos Zambrano Struggles in Latest Minor League Start

He claims he was ready to join the Phillies two outings ago, but Carlos Zambrano’s start for Lehigh Valley on Thursday might give the organization pause. As the Inquirer’s Bob Brookover saw it, Big Z was “less than dazzling” on the Triple-A stage, the fourth outing of his minor-league tryout.

The line says enough on its own. While he only allowed two runs off of four hits to go along with five strikeouts in a no decision, Zambrano was only able to make it through five innings of work, running a deep pitch count and walking four batters.

Zambrano’s numbers are still decent. He’s 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA between Clearwater, Reading, and Lehigh. However, command has increasingly become an issue. He’s awarded seven free passes between his last two appearances, running his total to 11 on the year. He has yet to last longer than six innings in a start.

If Zambrano is laboring this much against minor-league batters, what do you think is going to happen against the seasoned hitters in the show?

It’s also what doesn’t show up in the box score that is concerning. At one time one of the game’s top power pitchers, it sounds like the 32 year old might be out of juice. Here’s more from Brookover:

The quote is funny because in his prime with the Chicago Cubs, he could throw a baseball close to 100 m.p.h. What the hitters from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre saw Thursday was a steady diet of fastballs clocked at 84 to 88 m.p.h. to go along with a big-league slider.

"You have to remember that I have more than 2,000 innings in my shoulder," said Zambrano, 32. "The major leagues punish people and there is nothing I can do . . . but I was able to go out and compete and keep the team in the game."

I hate to be the one to break it to Carlos, but the Phillies were probably hoping he could do more than keep the team in games. Hell, Tyler Cloyd has done that much.

At the very least, it sounds like Zambrano will have to prove himself once more before he gets the call. Cloyd has actually held his own, and while Jonathan Pettibone was hit around some in two of his last three starts, he had been very effective up to then.

Big Z may think he’s ready, but the organization has a couple more weeks before they have to make a decision, specifically July 1. That’s the date Zambrano can opt out of his minor-league contract.

>> Zambrano less than dazzling in IronPigs outing [Inq]

Buccaneers promote former Eagles WR Josh Huff to active roster

Buccaneers promote former Eagles WR Josh Huff to active roster

Josh Huff is back on an NFL active roster.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are calling the wide receiver up from their practice squad to their 53-man roster. The Eagles released Huff just over a month ago following his arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm. 

The 25-year-old Huff was originally a third round pick by the Eagles in 2014. He made 48 receptions for 482 yards and four touchdowns over three seasons. He excelled on special teams, returning two kicks for touchdowns. One of those kick returns came in his penultimate game with the Eagles, a 21-10 win over the Vikings on Oct. 23. 

Huff replaces Cecil Shorts III for the Buccaneers after Shorts suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sunday in San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have filled Huff's role in the offense with rookie receivers Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner. 

MLB Notes: Red Sox acquire ace LHP Chris Sale from White Sox

MLB Notes: Red Sox acquire ace LHP Chris Sale from White Sox

OXON HILL, Md. -- All-Star ace Chris Sale is joining the reloading Boston Red Sox, leaving behind his shredded reputation with the Chicago White Sox.

Boston acquired Sale on Tuesday for a package of four prospects, including high-priced Yoan Moncada.

Sale was a top trade target at the winter meetings and the AL East champion Red Sox were getting him instead of Washington, which also pursued.

A few hours earlier, Boston got prime setup man Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee. After that deal was announced, without tipping his hand, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said: "We're trying to win now, as you can see."

Boston acquired Sale for minor league pitchers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz, outfielder Luis Basabe and Moncada, a third baseman (see full story).

Red Sox get setup man Thornburg from Brewers for INF Shaw
OXON HILL, Md. -- The Boston Red Sox have gotten the setup man they wanted, acquiring right-hander Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers in a package that included infielder Travis Shaw.

The deal was announced Tuesday and was the first trade at baseball's winter meetings.

Milwaukee also got minor league infielder Mauricio Dubon, minor league right-hander Josh Pennington and a player to be named or $100.

The 28-year-old Thornburg will become Boston's eighth-inning guy, setting up closer Craig Kimbrel for the AL East champions. Thornburg was 8-5 with 13 saves and a 2.15 ERA in 67 games for the Brewers, striking out 90 in 67 innings.

The 26-year-old Shaw hit .242 with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs last season. He mostly played third base, and also saw time at first.

The 22-year-old Dubon hit a combined .323 and scored 101 runs between the Single-A and Double-A levels. The 21-year-old Pennington was 5-3 with a 2.86 ERA in Class A (see full story).

Yankees to retire Jeter's No 2 on May 14, last single digit
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's No. 2 is being retired, the last of the New York Yankees' single digits.

The Yankees said Tuesday the number will be retired on May 14 before a Mother's Day game against Houston, and a plaque in his honor will be unveiled in Monument Park during the ceremony.

Jeter's number is the 21st retired by the team. He won five World Series titles and was a 14-time All-Star during a 20-season career that ended in 2014 and he is sixth in career hits with 3,465.

Jeter set Yankees records for hits, games (2,747), at-bats (11,195), doubles (544) and stolen bases (358) (see full story).