ATLANTA -- The Marlins on Monday moved struggling starter Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen and inserted Wade LeBlanc -- the team's best pitcher this spring -- into the rotation.
How long that lasts, manager Ozzie Guillen said, depends on how both perform. But LeBlanc will start Wednesday against the Braves.
"I think we need to take a look at LeBlanc for a couple starts," Guillen said before Monday's game against the Braves. "It wasn't an easy move.
"I think Carlos -- I don't want to say deserved more than that, but the first two months of the season was outstanding. The last game was weird. This guy was dealing, a very nice game. Then from one inning to another he lost it. I want to try to give him a lot of chances [in the bullpen]. We're going to see how it works."
Zambrano started the season 4-3 with a 2.81 ERA over his first 11 starts with 56 strikeouts and 29 walks. But over his last nine starts he's been miserable, going 1-6 with a 7.62 ERA. He's walked 38 and struckout just 27 over the span.
Guillen said his plan is to use Zambrano for as many as two innings -- or as a long reliever if need be. The Marlins play a double-header Friday in Washington and while Josh Johnson will start one of those games the other starter has yet to be announced. Guillen said depending on how Zambrano is used, he could start the other game Friday. But the more likely scenario is the Marlins will call up someone from the minors -- possibly recently acquired Jacob Turner, who is scheduled to pitch for Triple A New Orleans on Thursday.
"He was disappointed. He was embarrassed," Guillen said of Zambrano went told he was going to the pen. "[He] feels bad because we brought him here and he’s not doing the way he thinks he can do it. When we make moves is not because was want to, it's because we have to. Carlos took it the right way and I expected that. We’re not going to take you out the rotation because you are pitching well. He was fine. And I told him I will give him the opportunity to pitch."
Zambrano waved off reporters while sitting on a sofa in the Marlins clubhouse.
As for LeBlanc, he's excited about getting an opportunity. The 27-year old left-hander went 2-1 with a 1.31 ERA in six Grapefruit League games (two starts) for the Marlins this spring. But he didn't make the big league roster. He's gone 1-1 with a 1.15 ERA in 11 relief appearances (15 2/3 innings) since being called up on July 1. He was 17-21 with a 4.47 ERA as a starter over four seasons in San Diego.
"As long as I'm up here helping this team do something I'm happy -- whether I'm better suited for the rotation or the bullpen it remains to be seen," LeBlanc said. "I'm aware they got Turner from Detroit and they probably want to see what he can do. So, I'm just going to go out there and try to get as many outs as I can and give this team a chance."