Cubs news and notes: March 26

  • Right-hander Carlos Zambrano became the first Cubs pitcher to pitch into the seventh inning this spring. The Cubs’ Opening Day starter threw 82 pitches and said he’s ready to open the regular season. In Zambrano’s next start, he’ll go back down to around 70 pitches, and then have an extra day off before his Opening Day start on April 5 in Atlanta.

  • Manager Lou Piniella thinks he and his staff have found a flaw in closer Carlos Marmol'spitching mechanics. Marmol had his second sub-par outing in a row on Friday, allowing three hits and three earned runs in one-third of an inning, including Travis Buck's three-run homer.

    “His delivery (was flat),” Piniella said. “He was throwing almost sidearm and he lost his good snap on the ball. Larry (Rothschild, Cubs’ pitching coach), will take a look at it tomorrow. “

    Rothschild was not at Friday’s game due to illness. He left camp early in the morning.

  • Left-hander Ted Lilly threw two innings on Friday in a minor league game.

    “Lilly threw good,” Piniella said. “Two innings, he didn’t throw any curve balls at all, just straight fastballs and change-ups. He got the side out in the second, 1-2-3. We couldn’t have expected any better; it was a good performance.”

    Lilly threw 31 pitches in his outing. The Cubs are hoping he’ll return to the rotation by mid-to-late April.

  • Third baseman Aramis Ramirez played in the field for the first time in two weeks. The Cubs’ third baseman did not have any chances in order to test his right triceps strain. Piniella said Ramirez will not air the arm out until close to opening day.

    “He’s the least of our worries,” Piniella said.