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Aramis Ramirez may not be back with Cubs in ‘12

Updated: November 3, 2011 4:15PM



Among the most immediate impacts of the Cubs’ sudden regime change could be any attempts to keep key veteran players, including Aramis Ramirez.

Ramirez, who could become a free agent whether or not the club picks up his 2012 option, was all but assured of returning next year — probably on a renegotiated extension — with Jim Hendry as general manager. But now he’s expected to look at his free-agency options, his agent, Paul Kinzer, said.

‘‘We’ve got to step back and look at everything,’’ Kinzer said.

‘‘At this point, it was pretty much a slam dunk [Ramirez would return]. It would have taken something serious for us to move on. We have to see what’s going on there — not only with the GM, but with the manager and everything else.

‘‘The Cubs are one of the best organizations in baseball — [farm director] Oneri Fleita . . . everybody —­ and it seemed like they fed off Jim’s personality.’’

Ramirez, one of the league’s hottest hitters who drove in two more runs Sunday night for a team-leading 81, said he doesn’t want to leave Chicago but is open to it, given the uncertainty.

‘‘For him to leave would be a big deal,’’ Kinzer said. ‘‘I think he’s probably going to at least look now and see what’s out there.’’

Ramirez, whose option is worth $16 million (with a $2 million buyout), said he wants to stay, ‘‘But you want to win. That’s the bottom line.’’

Dead Z scroll?

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said he has ‘‘a hard time imagining’’ Carlos Zambrano ever pitching again for the Cubs when asked during the ESPN telecast.

Zambrano, who remains on baseball’s disqualified list pending an appeal after abandoning the team during a game 10 days ago, has one year at $18 million left on his contract.

‘‘His actions in Atlanta were unacceptable, and not what you’d want from anyone on any team anywhere,’’ said Ricketts, who was then asked about Zambrano pitching again for the team. ‘‘I don’t know. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I have a hard time imagining that. I have to see how it all plays out.’’

Notes

Prep pitcher Dillon Maples, who made headlines when he gave up college football to sign a $2.5 million deal as the Cubs’ 14th-round draft pick, called Hendry’s involvement key to him signing last week and seemed surprised by his firing.

‘‘I developed kind of a relationship with him because my dad was talking a lot to him,’’ said Maples, who toured Wrigley on Sunday before heading out to play in three weeks. ‘‘Him being let go, it made me feel a little less comfortable, I’d say. But you’ve got to move forward with stuff.’’

Andrew Cashner (shoulder strain) threw a side session Sunday in advance of Monday’s flight to Tennessee, where he’ll start a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday in an effort to return to the mound for the Cubs in two weeks for the first time since April.



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