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Zambrano revealed Thursday that he's dropped the cutter from his pitching mix this season because he made too many mistakes with it last season. Entering 2010 with a 105-68 record and a 3.51 ERA over nine seasons, he's fully aware that the Cubs' success this season depends on him again becoming the staff ace.
"Carlos is serious this year. I think Carlos was embarrassed last year," manager Lou Piniella said. "We need Carlos. ... There is no reason Zambrano can't win 18 ball games or so."
Lefty Ted Lilly, who's being held back from throwing off the mound after offseason shoulder surgery, was expected to be examined by a doctor Thursday because he has a sore right knee. Lilly wasn't sure if he would need an MRI, but it could be a setback for one of the Cubs' most consistent starters over the last three years. Lilly is 44-26 over that span. He threw off flat ground with no pain in his shoulder Thursday.
Zambrano might be slimmer, but catcher Geovany Soto lost 40 pounds in the offseason. The 2008 NL rookie of the year slumped badly last season and missed a month with an oblique strain.
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