Cubs fans breathed a collective sigh of relief strong enough to flutter the flags above Wrigley Field and make the Windy City even windier on Friday.
That's because the MRI on Carlos Zambrano's shoulder came back showing no structural damage.
Many of the Cubs faithful believed their remarkable 2008 season depended on the health of their ace. Without him, it would be hard for this squad to remain the team to beat in the NL Central.
Zambrano is expected to miss his next start and will probably land on the DL in an effort to give his shoulder a rest. If that's the case, he should be back in time to make a start before the All-Star game.
The club would be wise to give him a break now to make it more likely he'll be strong for a run at the playoffs.
Beyond Ryan Dempster and his amazing return to the rotation, the rest of the Cubs rotation has been suspect. Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis have had their ups and downs and rookie Sean Gallagher is working on consistency. Former reliable option Rich Hill is toiling away in the minors working on more serious inconsistency issues. The club still needs to sort out which pitchers they can rely on for their stretch run.
If the Cubs are to end their century-long World Series drought and see one more flag fluttering above Wrigley, they'll need Big Z to help them raise it.