Watch Zambrano early

 
 
Published10/2/2007 11:42 PM

Q. How should Cubs hitters approach starting pitcher Brandon Webb?

A. One of the things you have to do against Webb is get him to get the ball up. He's one of the few pitchers who can get away with one pitch because he's so good at changing speeds from 88 to 94 miles per hour. Cubs hitters will have to be patient and wait for that pitch to get up.

 

Q. What signs do we look for to know that Carlos Zambrano is on his game?

A. When he's throwing well, he works quickly and gets a lot of quick outs. If he's on, you'll see lots of swings and misses in the first inning. That means his pitches are working, he has good movement on his fastball and his breaking ball is sharp and crisp.

Q. If Alfonso Soriano leads off with a first-inning homer, does that really shake the pitcher and change the game?

A. When you go into a game as a starting pticher, the last thing you want to do is walk someone, so you're pitching around the hitter and trying to establish the strike zone.

Soriano will expand his strike zone as the game goes on, but he has an advantage in the first inning.

You want to establish your pitches, and it plays into his hands. Later on in the game, he doesn't see as many fastballs from pitchers.

Q. The Diamondbacks have won 32 one-run games this year. Who should get most of the credit -- their pitching or their defense?

A. Their pitching. Their bullpen is very solid. Jose Valverde, their closer, is terrific, and Brandon Lyon sets up things very well. With close games, you look at being able to get clutch hitting and you depend on a good bullpen to get the job done.

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Q. What have you learned to appreciate about Lou Piniella's managerial style?

A. He's very set in his ways and it may not be a conventional style of thinking. Look at how he handled the Ryan Theriot and Alfonso Soriano leadoff situation, or how he's handled the bullpen.

He believes in his ways and he's not going to be influenced by others. Lou knows his roster better than anyone else, and he believes in doing things his way and it has given them a division championship, so he's doing a lot of things right.

Q. If the Cubs must keep Eric Byrnes off the bases so he doesn't get Arizona's offense going, how do they accomplish that?

A. He's a very good fastball hitter, and he's aggressive early in the count. He will chase pitches out of the strike zone, but he is more patient as the game goes along.

He's the key to their offense. They have a difficult time scoring runs, but I think playing the Diamondbacks will help the Cubs because they don't have the firepower to match Chicago. They should be easier to contain.

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