Zambrano hopes to return next week

Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano has right rotator cuff tendinitis and inflammation, magnetic resonance imaging confirmed yesterday, a potential obstacle to Chicago's chances of winning the World Series for the first time in a century.

Zambrano received a shot of anti-inflammatory medication and hopes to return to the rotation next week.


General manager Jim Hendry said Zambrano hopes to start throwing again when the team begins a series in St. Louis on Wednesday. If all goes well, Zambrano would start at Houston in the next series.

Zambrano, 13-5 this year, left his start Tuesday night against the Astros after five innings, saying he did not feel well. He was examined Wednesday by team orthopedist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo.


Zambrano is 1-1 with a 7.11 ERA over his past six starts and has made it past the fifth inning only twice.

Sean Marshall will start in Zambrano's place Sunday at Cincinnati. The Cubs began the day with a 4 1/2 -game lead in the National League Central and have 22 games remaining, including 16 on the road.

"Hopefully, he will be just missing this one start," Hendry said. "I think it's a relief that Z doesn't have anything more significant than what we thought."

Zambrano was on the disabled list in June with a sore shoulder.

Yankees:: Right fielder Bobby Abreu was removed from the starting lineup against Tampa Bay because of a sore left wrist. X-rays were negative, and the Yankees said Abreu is day-to-day. Abreu is hitting .301 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs.

Nationals:: Washington, which ranks 18th in attendance in the majors despite a new ballpark, is lowering some of its season-ticket prices for next season. Prices will go down for 7,500 seats in the 41,888-seat Nationals Park, mostly in the outfield sections. Seats in most of the discounted sections will cost $5 to $10 less per game, lowering the stadium's average season-ticket price for a nonpremium seat to approximately $29. The team decided not to lower the prices of the expensive seats behind home plate, which sell for as much as $400 per game. The Nationals are averaging 29,509 fans per game, well below the National League average of 34,204 after Wednesday's games.

Reds: Right-hander Josh Fogg left his start against the Pirates after three innings because he strained his groin while scoring on a sacrifice fly. Fogg has only one victory in 10 starts. His ERA over that span is 6.30.

Phillies: Third base coach Steve Smith was suspended for two games and fined because of an argument with umpires during a game in Chicago on Friday. Smith is scheduled to begin serving his suspension tonight when the Phillies play the Mets.


Braves: Mike Gonzalez picked up the save in Atlanta's 2-0 over Washington and has converted all nine of his save opportunities this season and 39 straight overall, the longest current streak in the major leagues, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He has not blown a save since June 25, 2004, for Pittsburgh at Cincinnati.