Caridad may be close to return

Caridad may be close to return

CHICAGO -- Cubs rookie Esmailin Caridad was to throw one inning in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday at extended Spring Training. If all goes well, the right-hander could join Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday for a couple rehab appearances.

Caridad has been on the disabled list since April 12 with a strained right forearm and has been rehabbing in Mesa.

"I would think if everything is right, he could be joining us by next weekend in Cincinnati," manager Lou Piniella said Saturday. "That's the plan if everything goes right."

Caridad was projected as the Cubs' primary setup pitcher but with his injury, the team moved Carlos Zambrano into that role. Big Z will stay in the bullpen when Caridad returns.

"I think it'll make us a little deeper from the right side," Piniella said of the bullpen makeup. "We haven't discussed what we're going to do, assuming he's there next weekend. It's still too far away. But it'll be one of the young pitchers he'll be replacing."

Which would mean one of the young right-handers -- Justin Berg or Jeff Gray -- could be re-assigned.