Friday, March 4, 2011
Posted: 12:48 p.m. Updated: 6:03 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
SURPRISE, Ariz. Carlos Silva will tell you exactly whats on his mind. Thats why he had to be separated from Aramis Ramirez, and why he waited almost 48 hours to tell his side of the story.
By Friday morning, Silva had cooled down enough to explain that the pressure to compete for his place in the Cubs rotation had been weighing on him. A pitcher who will turn 32 next month felt like a rookie all over again.
Silva relies on his sinker and his command. In the bullpen before his first start on Wednesday, he was missing his spots and overthrowing the ball. The results, as he said, were absolutely brutal.
Silva stepped down into the dugout after a six-run first inning and said something like: We need to start making plays here. Ramirez, who committed one of the three errors during that sequence, took it personally. All you saw was a blur of blue jerseys trying to break it up.
I have to prove (it) to them, Silva said. I was thinking: (I) got to show them I can pitch. (There was) too much going on in my mind.
Its like: Boom! Its a big explosion. Thats why I say it was all my fault.
Silva, who indicated that he apologized to Ramirez, said that he wasnt even aware of the team-wide defensive issues this spring. It has been a narrow focus since he showed up at Cubs Convention in January, when reporters started asking him about the openings in the rotation.
Silva didnt think that he should lose his job to the heart issue and elbow injury that limited him to 5.1 innings across the final two months of last season. He looked back on his start 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA and felt he already deserved it.
For now, this episode wont be held against him.
I thought it was over the day after it happened, manager Mike Quade said. Nothing just goes away in the blink of an eye because Q says it (does). But everybody takes a day. Look, I get furious. And if I would address things immediately a lot of times it would not be good. So why should I think players would be any different? You take a step back. You go home, you have dinner, you relax and you come in the next day.
Clearly, Silva has more at stake this month than Ramirez. He does not have the luxury of just getting in shape. He also doesnt believe that this incident will negatively impact his chances of rejoining the rotation.
I dont feel like Im the bad guy, Silva said. Hes going to be the third baseman. Im fighting for my spot. Im dying there to have a good outing.
In a sense Silva didnt really share in the late-season surge that helped Quade keep his job and made the Cubs feel so much better heading into winter. Silva admitted that he doesnt really know Quade all that well, but praised the managers communication skills.
The way he talks, the way he acts hes very professional, very clear, very mature, Silva said. He tried to keep us together (and) thats one thing we really need.
Silva is tight with Carlos Zambrano, but out of respect the two pitchers havent discussed Wednesdays incident. Silva gave Zambrano some space when he got into it with Derrek Lee and went into anger-management counseling. He does not want to be alienated from teammates who already consider the matter closed.
Thats the worst feeling you can have, Silva said. You spend more time with these guys than your own family. Thats the last thing I want. I never had problems with my teammates (before).
I know Im hard. I know Im difficult. I know Im a strong (personality). I say a lot of things, but Im not a guy that comes here to fight or to argue.
Silva can be remarkably candid. He is charming and engaging with the press when he decides he wants to be. He just got a lot off his big chest.
That doesnt mean Im going to pitch great on Monday, he said, but I got to be myself.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.