MESA—Carlos Zambrano threw free and easy in his spring training debut, working two innings in the Cubs‘ 15-7 exhibition loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.It may be a sign for the fiery right-hander of things to come in 2011 after a difficult 2010 when he was pulled from the rotation and suspended from the team in June after a scuffle with former teammate Derek Lee.Despite the difficult start — demoted to the bullpen after four starts — and being placed on the restricted list while going through anger management, Zambrano salvaged the season by finishing on a tear, going 8-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last 11 starts. It wasn’t as smooth of a debut for the big offseason acquisition as right-hander Matt Garza, who came over in a trade from Tampa Bay, struggled throwing strictly fastballs and change-ups. He allowed five earned runs on five hits in his two innings, including a grand slam to Coco Crisp on a change-up, but Garza was more concerned with his hit.Garza gave up another run after a leadoff double by right-fielder Matt Carson. He took the loss in the spring training opener for both teams after allowing six base runners in his two innings. The Cubs’ offense started well to get a 4-0 lead off Oakland starter Trevor Cahill as six of the first seven batters reached, including a two-run double by Alfonso Soriano, who had three hits. Starlin Castro and Marlon Byrd each went 2 for 3 to add to the 16-hit attack. The early lead was erased by Crisp’s grand slam and then three errors, two by right-fielder Tyler Colvin, and ineffective pitching (Oakland had 18 hits) made it a rough start to the spring schedule.
NOTES—Manager Mike Quade said that Colvin, who has been getting time at first base to become more versatile, will get a shot at in the infield at some time during the opening week of spring games, possibly Thursday against Texas. … RHP Randy Wells gets the start Monday against Milwaukee and Ryan Dempster, the Opening Day starter, gets the ball at San Francisco on Tuesday. … Several of the Cubs players attended a surprise party Saturday night for former Cubs reliever Bobby Howry, who retired after 13 seasons and pitched for five other teams, including the White Sox.