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Zambrano, family should become U.S. citizens soon
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/18/2009 12:01 AM

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Pretty soon, you can call him Citizen Carlos.

Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano said Tuesday that he and his family have nearly completed the process of becoming United States citizens. He also said he plans to spend much of his time living in Chicago.

"I'm applying right now; I have the papers," said Zambrano, a 27-year-old native of Venezuela. "We're doing the last papers. I think by the month of June or July, me and my wife and (children) - one of my daughters was born in Chicago - we're trying to become American (citizens)."

Zambrano had a big day in Tuesday's 12-3 victory over the Dodgers before a Cactus League-record 13,046. He pitched 5 innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs. He also hit a 3-run homer in the second inning and a run-scoring double in the fourth.

Zambrano said he won't play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic in the future. He did not play for Venezuela this year.

"I'm proud to be a Venezuelan," he said, giving a nod toward both of his countries.

Numbers game: Expect the Cubs to announce they're retiring uniform No. 31 in honor of Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. That could come before the Sunday, May 3 game. Jenkins is a Hall of Famer, and Maddux retired in December.

Both pitchers did two tours of duty with the Cubs.

Lee scratched: Manager Lou Piniella was going to move first baseman Derrek Lee from third to clean up Tuesday, but Lee ended up being a lineup scratch because of a sore right quadriceps.

Earlier in the day, Lee said he was "speechless" over the fuss about his poor hitting. Lee is 5-for-28 with 1 extra-base hit, a double.

"I feel fine," he said. "I'm not worried about it. There's still three weeks to go. I'm just trying to stay healthy, get my swings in. I'm not getting hits, but I know I'm going to hit.

"I've been doing this a long time, so I don't really put a lot of weight in my results in spring training. I feel like I know what I'm capable of doing during the season. Look at last year (in spring training). I didn't get any hits last year and then I had one of the best Aprils I've ever had."

Nice debut: Corey Koskie made his Cubs spring debut Tuesday and hit a double off the center-field wall in his first at-bat. He scored on a single by Andres Blanco. Koskie also grounded out and walked. He's trying to come back following a 21/2-year absence after suffering post-concussion syndrome.

"We're going to take a good look at him in the next couple weeks," Lou Piniella said. "We'll probably play him every other day for a few days and see how he does. It would be a nice story if it materializes."

Got a chance: Lou Piniella said he has been impressed with Rule 5 draft pick Troy Patton, a reliever out of the Rockies system.

"He's got a chance to stay here," Piniella said. "I'm seeing where other teams' Rule 5 picks are being returned (to their former teams) now. We haven't even discussed that. That means we've been impressed with the young man. I tell you what, he's not intimidated. He's got pretty good stuff. His best chance is continuing to throw strikes."

Patton, who hasn't pitched above Class A, has 7 strikeouts in 62/3 innings.