Saturday, March 12, 2011
Posted 6:27 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
MESA, Ariz. Publicly the Cubs are giving Carlos Silva the benefit of the doubt, because hes a veteran and once pitched well enough to get a 48 million contract.
But there are also reasons to be skeptical, from the health problems that sidelined Silva last season to the mental issues that led to a dugout explosion this spring. Not to mention how good the Cubs feel about some of their other internal candidates for the rotation.
READ: Time running out in Cubs rotation battle
Before leaving for two split-squad games in Las Vegas, Mike Quade said that Silva could win a job win one or two quality outings. The manager also mentioned that just pitching again would be good for Silvas state of mind.
Silva wanted to take away the positives from Saturdays 7-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds in front of 10,327 fans at HoHoKam Park. He stretched out to five innings, but gave up four runs, and cant stress over his job security anymore.
Theyre going to make the decision, Silva said. Im not going to keep worrying about that. Im just going to keep working on what I have to do to get better, because thats the only way (Im) going to win a spot in the rotation.
Silva focused on the beginning two scoreless innings against a lineup that included Edgar Renteria, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen and Jonny Gomes. He also didnt walk any of the 19 batters he faced.
But on a warm afternoon, two changeups flew out of HoHoKam Park. Chris Heisey drilled one off the left-field scoreboard, while Jeremy Hermida lifted one over the wall in right-center field.
On Saturday Silva cut his ERA from 29.70 to 16.20. Hes banking on three more starts to make a more favorable impression before the Cubs make final decisions. Catcher Geovany Soto is pleased with the progress hes seen.
His productions going forward, Soto said. You can see hes working. His offspeed stuffs pretty good, his fastball command is getting better. So I think today was a plus.
The Cubs havent written off Silva, who lasted only 3 13 innings combined in his first two appearances. He found himself so amped up that he was overthrowing, losing some of the natural sink to his ball.
Hes a guy that wants to do great every time, Soto said. Sometimes you got to pick your spot and calm him down, but for the most part (he stayed relaxed).
Silva still thinks of himself as the guy who began last year 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA.
Exactly, no doubt, man, I know I can pitch, Silva said. I know what I can do. (The) first two games (were hard), but you can learn a lot from that, too. I take things maybe harder than everybody else here.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.