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Thursday, May 27, 2010
Cashner or Jackson could be called up soon

By Bruce Levine

The Carlos Zambrano situation has taken on a life of its own. Zambrano will pitch in one of the three games in Pittsburgh next week. Speculation as to which pitcher will be removed from the rotation has run rampant in media circles this week.

Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny had a sub-standard outing Wednesday. That result had many speculating that he will be moved to the bullpen. If that is the case, a left-handed pitcher will have to be sent to the minors or traded. Manager Lou Piniella is not going to have a functional bullpen with four left-handed relievers.

Two of the Cubs’ outstanding young pitchers, right-handers Jay Jackson and Andrew Cashner, have just switched roles at Triple-A Iowa. Cashner, who had been starting, is going to the bullpen. While Jackson, who has been a reliever, will go back into the rotation.

Both pitchers are being prepared for possible call-ups. Cashner has the more electric fastball. Jackson is a bit more accomplished with three solid pitches.

The organization is confident both will be solid relievers who Piniella can trust, once they’re moved to the majors.

The fear with Piniella is that if a young pitcher walks a few guys, that he won’t use him again. That, of course, is an exaggeration, but the Cubs manager does insist on Strike 1, Strike 2, from his pitchers.

In the case of Gorzelanny, he hasn’t done anything to deserve a demotion. But someone will have to have a different role, at least for a short period of time.

“It’s a need, it’s a change of assignment,” Piniella said. “Just because someone is going to be taken out of the rotation, doesn’t mean he can’t help this team in the bullpen.

“Our bullpen can use all the help we can get. “

Don’t discount Cashner and Jackson ending up on the major-league staff this summer. For now, barring a trade, one of them will soon be in the bullpen, maybe as early as next week.