Cubs

Silva, Ramirez fight in Cubs dugout

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Silva, Ramirez fight in Cubs dugout

Wednesday, March 2, 2011Posted: 4:25 PM Updated: 8:13 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

PHOENIX - Carlos Silva hopped into a yellow golf cart and rode away toward the parking lot, leaving others to explain what happened.

Silva and Aramis Ramirez had to be separated on Wednesday during a dugout dispute at the end of the first inning at Maryvale Baseball Park. On a sunny, 69-degree afternoon, another Cubs pitcher had a meltdown in a 12-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Silva is a proud, emotional man fighting for a spot in the rotation. He gave up six runs - three earned - during a wild sequence and walked off the mound complaining about his defense. He had allowed two two-run homers, but was also undermined by three errors.

Ramirez is one of the coolest, most detached guys in the Cubs clubhouse. He dropped one ball in shallow left field. Though Silva didn't criticize Ramirez directly, the third baseman said something right back.

Ramirez - who's been a Cub since 2003, longer than almost anyone else on the team - called it a "misunderstanding" and said he talked it out with Silva, that it's all good.

"I never had that problem in my life," Ramirez said. "Even in Little League I never got involved with a teammate like that. (But) it's in the past and we move on."

Silva has said that he thinks he deserves one of the two open spots in the rotation, but he was still in a fragile position. Silva, who was acquired from Seattle when the Cubs unloaded Milton Bradley, pitched like an All-Star during the first half of last season.

But Silva, who will turn 32 in April, underwent a cardiac procedure and dealt with elbow issues that limited him to only 5.1 innings during the final two months.

"You take the good with the bad," catcher Koyie Hill said. "It's a high-pressure job. Guys are going out there for a job. That's their livelihood. They want to be good. They put a lot of pressure on themselves. So stuff like that can happen. I don't think it's going to be a problem."

Silva was pulled after one inning, though manager Mike Quade said the right-hander had reached his pitch count, close to 40. He walked to a side field with a Cubs strength coach to finish his conditioning. As a group of reporters staked out the clubhouse, he refused to comment on the incident.

"We don't have to fight," outfielder Alfonso Soriano said. "We have a lot of pressure in Chicago with the fans, with the media. We don't need that."

The Cubs were embarrassed by a similar incident last season, when Carlos Zambrano confronted Derrek Lee over a defensive breakdown. Zambrano was suspended and forced to attend anger-management counseling, though Quade and Ramirez tried to distance themselves from that comparison.

Does Silva have to apologize to the team, like Zambrano did last year?

"You got to ask him that," Ramirez said. "I don't know what he's got on his mind. I can speak only about myself. I can't answer for Silva."

Silva is owed 11.5 million in the last year of his contract, which contains a 2 million buyout for 2012.

Quade said that Silva will not face any disciplinary action from him, though that doesn't mean the issue is completely resolved. General manager Jim Hendry did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Quade doesn't want to pin this all on Silva, because the Cubs have already committed 14 errors this spring.

"You got two pissed-off people," Quade said. "It was a brutal first inning, plenty of blame to go around and people get frustrated. Maybe that's what we freaking need."

WATCH: Quade's reaction to the incident

Ramirez does not seem like the type to hold a grudge. He also kind of smiled and said, "I'm not a troublemaker."

By the end, as the crowd of 3,548 was thinning out, the public-address announcer told everyone over the speakers, "Carlos Silva takes the loss."

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

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

The Cubs didn't wait long to make Joe Maddon's words come true.

Roughly 5 hours after Maddon said the Cubs are definitely in the market for more pitching, the front office went out and acquired Jesse Chavez, a journeyman jack-of-all-trades type.

It's a minor move, not in the realm of Zach Britton or any of the other top relievers on the market.

But the Cubs only had to part with pitcher Class-A pitcher Tyler Thomas, their 7th-round draft pick from last summer who was pitching out of the South Bend rotation as a 22-year-old.

Chavez — who turns 35 in a month — brings over a vast array of big-league experience, with 799 innings under his belt. He's made 70 starts, 313 appearances as a reliever and even has 3 saves, including one this season for the Texas Rangers.

Chavez is currently 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. He has a career 4.61 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while pitching for the Pirates, Braves, Royals, Blue Jays, A's, Dodgers, Angels and Rangers before coming to Chicago.

Of his 30 appearances this season, Chavez has worked multiple innings 18 times and can serve as a perfect right-handed swingman in the Cubs bullpen, filling the role previously occupied by Luke Farrell and Eddie Butler earlier in the season.

Chavez had a pretty solid run as a swingman in Oakland from 2013-15, making 47 starts and 50 appearances as a reliever, pitching to a 3.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 across 360.1 innings.

"Good arm, versatile, could start and relieve," Joe Maddon said Thursday after the trade. "I've watched him. I know he had some great runs with different teams. 

"The word that comes to mind is verstaility. You could either start him or put him in the bullpen and he's very good in both arenas."

It's not a flasy move, but a valuable piece to give the Cubs depth down the stretch.

There's no way the Cubs are done after this one trade with nearly two weeks left until the deadline. There are more moves coming from this front office, right?

"Oh yeah," Maddon said. "I don't think that's gonna be the end of it. They enjoy it too much."

Jason Heyward has become an offensive catalyst

Jason Heyward has become an offensive catalyst

Expecting Jason Heyward to carry a team offensively would be thought as foolish just a few short months ago. But here in the middle of July, Heyward has turned into the offensive firestarter the Cubs have been seemingly missing since Dexter Fowler left. 

Heyward walked away from Thursday night's 9-6 win over the Cardinals tallying three hits, two RBI, two runs scored and his first stolen base of the year, as the 28-year-old outfielder continued to poke holes in the Cardinals defense. 

Twice Heyward was able to slip a ball between the 1st and 2nd basemen that off the bat looked like neither had a chance to make it through the right field side. Later, Heyward would battle through a lengthy at-bat, finally being rewarded with an opposite-field hit that drove in the game-tying run. 

"It just happened," Heyward explained. " [Carlos Martinez] is not going to give you a whole lot to do damage on throughout the game. I was able to get one pitch there and get a guy home." 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon mentioned Heyward and his ability to move the ball around the field and how it's helped him become an effective piece to this Cubs offense. So effective Heyward's batting average crept up to .290 after today's three-hit performance. 

Heyward credits his quick hands as the major tool he's utilized to create so many successful at-bats lately, which has allowed him to take advantage of certain pitches and punch them through for hits.

He's certainly not driving the ball for consistent power, but the approach has put Heyward on pace to match the 160 hit total he amassed with the Cardinals in 2015. 

"I feel like Joe's mindset on moving the ball is putting the ball in play when you got guys on base," said Heyward. "It keeps the line moving, regardless of the result." 

It might be crazy to think that Heyward's incredible turnaround this season might simply be attributed to putting the ball in play. But even just taking a look at Heyward's contact rates shows he's increased his contact on pitches outside the zone by roughly three percent.

Not a massive difference, but if Heyward's hands are truly giving him an edge at the plate, making contact with pitches that may not be a strike but are hittable pitches could explain the increased offense we are seeing now. 

"That's kinda the biggest thing," said Heyward. "The more good swings you take, the more hits you have a chance to get." 

Shooters shoot, and Heyward continues to shoot his shot and keep the Cubs offense chugging along.