Baseball

Desperate Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

Lou Piniella is tired of watching his relievers blow games for the Chicago Cubs, and, boy, is he ready to do something about it.

Piniella made a bold move Wednesday, inserting temperamental ace Carlos Zambrano into a shaky bullpen that threatened to derail Chicago’s season.

“You look at these box scores every day around baseball and these games, especially in the National League, they’re won in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth innings,” said Piniella, in his fourth season as Cubs manager. “There are few blowouts early. There’s some obviously but not (a lot).

“Look, this makes all the sense in the world.”

Chicago’s bullpen was 1-6 with a 6.15 ERA and three saves in seven opportunities heading into Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets. Piniella also has another starter ready to go, because All-Star right-hander Ted Lilly is expected to come off the disabled list this weekend.

“I understand the situation,” Zambrano said. “I understand that we need a little, little help in the bullpen. Look, we already lost three or four games in the eighth inning or in relief.”

The burly right-hander said Piniella told him the move was temporary and general manager Jim Hendry was trying to acquire a setup man through a trade. Zambrano also was confident he would return to the rotation this year.

“I don’t like to be a reliever,” Zambrano said. “I don’t want to be a reliever, but this team needs somebody to step up and help out the bullpen.”

Rockies to honor McGregor

The Colorado Rockies are wearing black patches on their uniform sleeves in memory of team president Keli McGregor.

The round patches have McGregor’s initials, KSM, stitched in white on a black background. The team will wear the patches for the rest of this season.

The 48-year-old McGregor was on a business trip when he was found dead in his hotel room in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

Around the horn

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, a baseball analyst for ESPN, was hired to help the Cincinnati Reds as a special adviser, working primarily with its community outreach and diversity programs but also giving advice on player matters. … Oakland placed second baseman Mark Ellis on the 15-day disabled list, a day after he left a game early when his balky hamstring began bothering him again on his first at-bat. … Umpire Ed Rapuano is sitting out the final two games of the Yankees-Athletics series after taking a foul ball off his facemask Tuesday night. Pacific Coast League umpire Mike Muchlinski was called up to replace Rapuano. … The Los Angeles Dodgers activated right-handed reliever Ronald Belisario off the restricted list. … The Mets placed reliever Ryota Igarashi on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

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