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Carlos Zambrano tunes up for opener against Houston
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/1/2009 10:41 PM

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PHOENIX - Carlos Zambrano originally was going to do a little Double-Duty Radcliffe action Wednesday, but it didn't turn out that way.

Zambrano started the 8-8 tie with the Oakland Athletics, pitching 31/3 innings and giving up 2 hits and 1 run. Manager Lou Piniella originally was going to ask the A's if Zambrano could stay in the game to hit as the DH after he was done pitching, but it didn't turn out that way. It became a moot point after Zambrano batted twice. Kosuke Fukudome pinch hit for the pitcher in the sixth inning.

"No," Zambrano said. "This is a moment we have to focus on what we have to do. My job here is to pitch. Two at-bats was good enough."

Zambrano wound up throwing 63 pitches, 38 strikes, against the A's as he tuned up for Monday's opening-night start at Houston.

Ready to go: The Cubs break camp Thursday. They fly to New York for a pair of exhibition games against the Yankees at new Yankee Stadium, Friday and Saturday. They're more than ready to go.

"We've been here too long," Lou Piniella said. "Arizona is a wonderful state. We've enjoyed it, but it's time to get back to the Midwest and start our season."

Carlos Zambrano agreed with his boss. Spring training, which most baseball people consider too long in the first place, was extended a week because of the World Baseball Classic.

"I don't like spring training, especially this one," Zambrano said. "It was long and kind of tiring."

Ted Lilly and Rich Harden are supposed to pitch the Friday and Saturday games, respectively, in New York, where rain could present problems.

If Lilly's start gets rained out, he'll throw in the batting cage, with Harden still pitching Saturday.

Soto power: Catcher Geovany Soto, who missed time with the Cubs because of the WBC, hit his first 2 homers of the spring. The first was a grand slam to center field in the Cubs' 6-run third inning. The second was a solo blast, also to center, in the fifth.

"I've been trying to work on my stroke," Soto said. "Nothing's really wrong. I've just got to work on it. Get your at-bats in and get in rhythm again. It's a work in progress. I feel like I'm squaring balls up and having good at-bats."

All right: The Cubs used what could be their regular lineup against left-handed pitchers as they faced Oakland lefty Dallas Braden. Reed Johnson played center field over Kosuke Fukudome. Aaron Miles played second base over Mike Fontenot, but that might not always be the case against lefties.

"This is pretty close," Lou Piniella said. "I'm not exactly sure what we're going to do at second base yet. The rest of the lineup is the people you'll see you there against left-hand pitching."

A little Lamb? The Cubs don't have immediate interest in third baseman Mike Lamb, released by the Milwaukee Brewers, but it's possible they could look into a minor-league deal for Lamb in the near future.

Lamb, a left-handed batter, played with Milwaukee and Minnesota last year. He has a lifetime .277 batting average, a .333 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage. The Cubs saw plenty of Lamb when he played for Houston from 2004-07. Lamb's release was due in part to former Cub Casey McGehee apparently making the Brewers' big-league club.