Cubs

Listen up: Zambrano tries to motivate Silva

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Listen up: Zambrano tries to motivate Silva

Monday, March 7, 2011
8:40 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. With all kinds of thoughts swirling around his head, Carlos Silva reached out to Carlos Zambrano, another Cubs pitcher who has had trouble channeling his emotions.

The Angels had just torched Silva for an eight-run inning on Monday in front of 6,804 fans at HoHoKam Park. The two have known each other since they were prospects playing winter ball in Venezuela and are represented by the same agent.

But for the most part, theyve avoided talking about the parallels between Zambrano confronting Derrek Lee and Silva getting into it with Aramis Ramirez. Heres how Silva recalled the text message from Zambrano reading:

You just need to forget everything. Go out there and pitch and do your thing. You know how to do it. You did it before. Why cant you do it again?

Mike Quade is being patient with Silva, who is owed 11.5 million this season, plus a 2 million buyout of his 2012 option. The manager knows that 3.1 innings isnt much of a sample size and will give Silva some space.

I dont care whoever your friends are, when you have a tough day, (you) call on them for support, Quade said. Who else? A stranger? Who else is going to comfort him other than a good friend?

Z has gone about his business the right way and has been pitching well. I just believe Silva will be OK. I really do.

The Cubs are trying to protect Silva and get him to block out all his doubts and anxieties. Greg Maddux the front-office assistant and future Hall of Famer watched Silvas last side session and encouraged him after Mondays start, saying that the ball looked good coming out of his hand.

Teammates arent nearly as fascinated by the Silva-Ramirez feud as the rest of us.

Good teams have had scuffles in the clubhouse, pitcher Randy Wells said. You just dont read about it. The fact that it happened in the dugout is the only reason you guys know about it. Its not an uncommon thing when youre with somebody for 200 days out of the year. Youre going to have some differences.

Stuff happens behind closed doors and you take care of it in-house. Im sure people wanted to kick my butt before.

Wells laughed at that last line, and really the Cubs have moved on from the incident. They view this as a media-driven story.

Its spring training we have nothing to worry about, Alfonso Soriano said. Were grown men. I think everybody knows what they have to do.

Satans Corner

Quade had more pointed words for third-base coach Ivan DeJesus, who waved in Marlon Byrd when Aramis Ramirez doubled into the left-field corner in the fourth inning. The Cubs were trailing the Angels 9-0 at the time and Byrd was thrown out at home plate.

Its spring training for everyone, Quade said after a 14-13 win. Zeus probably pulled the trigger a little bit soon. Ive done that many times myself and in a different scoring situation maybe you take a shot, but we were down.

DeJesus took Quades old job when the Cubs reshuffled their coaching staff after Lou Piniellas retirement late last season.

Ivan hasnt done a lot of this, Quade said. Well sit down and talk and see what he was thinking. (I) can tell him firsthand when I see something. I know the difficult situations. I dont know if he knows our terminology, but thats Satans Corner.

Ivans got a lot of work to do as far as just getting comfortable over there.

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

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss Yu Darvish's 1st win at Wrigley, Cole Hamel's status, and Kris Bryant playing better than he did in his MVP season.

01:00     Darvish picking up 1st win at Wrigley

03:30     Cole Hamels injury update

05:00     Starting rotation after the All-Star break

06:00     Cubs defense looking sharp

07:30     How the Cubs will approach the weekend and the expected heat

09:30     Kris Bryant playing above his MVP level

12:00     How the NL Central stacks up

14:00     Upcoming road trip to San Francisco, Milwaukee and Saint Louis

16:00     Addition to Martin Maldonado

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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