Home plate umpire Mark Carlson, left, ejects Chicago Cubs' starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano, center, as Cubs manager Lou Piniella, right, comes to his aid during the seventh inning of last night's game against the Pirates at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Zambrano argued that he tagged the Pirates' Nyjer Morgan at home plate.
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CHICAGO -- Matt Capps went from having his career flash before his eyes to having just a couple of days off.
"Amazing, isn't it?" the Pirates' closer said yesterday, in full uniform at Wrigley Field before the 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. "If you'd told me Monday I could pitch by the coming weekend, I'd have said you were nuts."
Capps, struck in the right elbow by a line drive Monday night, had his first tossing session yesterday morning, 20 minutes from 60 feet. That went well enough that he will graduate to a full bullpen session today in Pittsburgh. If that goes just as well, he could be cleared to pitch as early as tomorrow against the Houston Astros.
There was "some stiffness" during the session yesterday, Capps said, related to lingering swelling. But the key was that he felt no discomfort in the bone at the back of the elbow, which was bruised earlier this month and caused him to miss six games.
"They've told me to go on feel, and it feels good enough to go," Capps said.
Sanchez, Wilson rested
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez, on an 11-for-18 tear, and shortstop Jack Wilson were rested in favor of Delwyn Young and Ramon Vazquez. Manager John Russell's intent, as he discussed with the players, was to give his middle infielders consecutive days off with no game today.
Russell originally had planned to rest Sanchez on Monday but changed his mind shortly before the game, and Sanchez went 6 for 6.
"He's played a lot, and we've got 17 games in a row coming up after the off day," Russell said. "Freddy's not 23 or 24 years old anymore. We like to give our guys a day here and there."
Sanchez is 31.
Young went 0 for 4, Vazquez 3 for 4.
Sanchez did appear as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, but perhaps he wishes he had not.
He led off with a walk off Kevin Gregg, then committed a terribly ill-advised baserunning blunder: Nyjer Morgan flied out to deep right, and Sanchez, whose run meant nothing with a three-run deficit, ran all the way to third before being easily doubled up.
Russell simply shook his head when asked about the play.
"No excuse," Sanchez said.
• The Pirates did not register a complaint, formal or otherwise, about the game Tuesday being called after five innings and a rain delay of one hour, two minutes. Umpiring crew chief Tim Tschida made the decision with Chicago ahead, 6-1, right after the game became official. "I did not like it," Pirates president Frank Coonelly, who attended, said of the outcome. "But it rained until after midnight, and we got 21/2 inches of rain, so it would have been difficult to finish."
• Chicago ace Carlos Zambrano, who was thrown out of the game after arguing a play at the plate, was not the only one displeased with home plate umpire Mark Carlson yesterday: The Pirates fumed about the outside strikes he called against left-handed batters. Five of Zambrano's six strikeouts caught left-handers looking, three of those to Young. "It just kept expanding," Young said of Carlson's zone.
• Reliever Tyler Yates, flown back to Pittsburgh a day early for more tests on his sore right elbow that showed no further issues, could join Capps today in throwing at PNC Park.