Cubs

Silva rocked in first start since dugout dispute

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Silva rocked in first start since dugout dispute

Monday, March 7, 2011
3:32 p.m. Updated 7:30 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Carlos Silva clapped his glove and pointed at Welington Castillo after his catcher threw out the runner at second base. This was the Cubs picking each other up, just like they talked about.

One inning later, it all unraveled.

Silva allowed seven consecutive Angels to reach base during Monday's 14-13 win. He drew mock cheers from the fans at HoHoKam Park once he finally got the first out of the third inning.

By then, you were lowering the odds on Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells making the rotation. This time Silva did not want to hear about how it might impact his chances.

You need a new question, Silva said, locking in on one reporter. Thats the only question you always ask.

The media actually had to wait nearly 48 hours before Silva finally agreed to talk about last weeks dugout confrontation with Aramis Ramirez.

Next question please, Silva said before muttering something under his breath.

That pressure to compete sparked last weeks dugout confrontation with Aramis Ramirez. Silva watched his teammates make three errors, told them to start making some plays and Ramirez took it personally. They had to be separated.

That meltdown led to a series of meetings, unwanted national attention and the first crisis of manager Mike Quades first full season on the job.After giving up eight runs on 10 hits in 2.1 innings on Monday, Silvas ERA is now 29.70 this spring.

Ultimately, Silva gets why hes being asked about his spot, but he doesnt appreciate it. In his mind, it started last spring training, if not from the moment he was acquired in the Milton Bradley deal.

I understand, Silva said. That was the main question every time I pitched well, when I pitched bad. When I pitched good, no one talked about it. Its the same question asked last year: Do you think this is going to affect you?

(I) cant think about it. If Im going to think that way it will put me down, too. Theyre going to make the decision and well see whats going to happen.

We live in a world of snap judgments and instant analysis, but publicly Quade is taking the long view.

Its about the body of work, Quade said. Hell be back and hell be better. Im convinced of that.

Silva made it unscathed through two scoreless innings before he lost control of his changeup. He couldnt blame this one on his defense. The Angels hit the ball hard, and all over the field. They knocked out eight hits during that sequence.

Silva insisted that he feels good, and wrote it off as bad luck and balls just finding holes.

The Cubs arent stretching out Cashner a 24-year-old former first-round pick just to abandon the plan come April. Wells who has accounted for 59 starts across the past two seasons has not allowed an earned run through his first five innings this spring.

At this point Quade hasnt planned how or exactly when he will announce the winners of the rotation auditions. The first round of roster cuts wont happen until around the March 16 off-day. The final decisions will be pushed toward the end of camp.

We dont know whats going to happen, Quade said. Heck, we could have three guys (get injured). I kind of hope for the best but anticipate the worst, so we need to keep everyone pitching and see how this plays out.

Silva has distanced himself from the idea that hes owed a job. He knows he needs to start showing some results.

If I focus on what happened Im going to get screwed, Silva said. Hopefully well forget about this one and keep working. Hopefully the next game it wont happen again.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

Jon Lester has arrived at Cubs camp, and he’s pleased with the new-look rotation full of potential aces. Kelly Crull and Vinnie Duber discuss the 5-man unit, and where Mike Montgomery fits into the Cubs’ plans.

Plus, Kelly and Vinnie talk Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber, along with the continuing free agent stalemate surrounding Jake Arrieta.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: