Friday, March 18, 2011Posted: 8:05 PM
By Patrick Mooney
MESA, Ariz. Carlos Zambrano walked back to the mound ahead of Mike Quade. It looked like he pretended to not notice his manager. They had an animated discussion as the infielders gathered around.
There were two outs in the fifth inning and Zambrano had already given up homers to Scott Rolen and Joey Votto. Quade had seen enough. The 13,182 fans at HoHoKam Park on Friday didnt witness a meltdown.
I was just playing with him, Zambrano said. I just told him: What if I dont want to leave? Hes like: Then were going to fight here. (He) told me: Get out of here.
Zambrano went on to say that while the Cubs work hard, its also about having fun. And a 14-13 loss to the Cincinnati Reds didnt change his mood during what has been a very strong spring.
Zambrano who gave up six runs in 4.2 innings likes playing for Quade. Thats not insignificant as the Cubs try to relocate the pitcher who finished last season by going 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his last 11 starts. It might take all of Quades excellent communication skills.
Hes a great guy, Zambrano said. Hes always in a good mood. Ive known him for the last seven, eight years and hes straight (with you). Whatever he thinks, he comes to you or he calls you to his office and he says whatever he (needs to) in a good way. (Its all) how you say it.
People that show respect (get) respect. Thats why we get along.
Zambrano has been nursing a sore left wrist after getting jammed on a swing during batting practice. He listed himself as doubtful to compete in Mondays softball home run derby to benefit his foundation.
Ozzie Guillen who went to dinner with Zambrano hours after he had to be separated from Derrek Lee and was sent home from U.S. Cellular Field last year is among those scheduled to participate in the charity event. This exchange showed that Zambrano already has another manager he can relate to.
Its all good, Quade said. For him to be in that frame of mind even in a spring training game (is) a good thing.
A national reporter asked Zambrano if he was indeed having more fun this spring.
The answer to that question summed up an organization with its fingers crossed. The Cubs hope that the anger-management counseling had made a difference, and that their 91.5 million man again performs at a high level.
So far, so good, Zambrano said.
The Silva Watch
Its unclear what the Cubs are going to do with Carlos Silva, who is owed 13.5 million and now has a 15.88 ERA this spring. Its getting more and more difficult to see him in the rotation, given how well Randy Wells has pitched, and how high the organization is on Andrew Cashner.
Silva labored through three innings on Friday and his defense did him no favors by committing two more errors. But in total he allowed eight runs five earned on 11 hits. Publicly, the Cubs are committed to looking at him as a starter.
Quade gave Silva another vote of confidence and said the idea of moving him to the bullpen (isnt) even worth addressing right now. The Cubs wont be rushed into a decision in case of injuries and perhaps another team could become desperate for pitching by months end.
(Maybe) Silva comes out next time and dazzles like he did last year, Quade said. You just dont know. Im not going to sit here and speculate whats going to happen. Im sure hes disappointed in his outing, but hes been down this road before.
Ojeda vs. Barney
Back spasms continue to sideline Augie Ojeda, who hasnt appeared in a game since March 11 and was supposed to be in the mix as a utility infielderbackup shortstop.
Darwin Barney is hitting .382 this spring and appears to be on the verge of winning that job on his own merits. But the 36-year-old Ojeda who once played for Quade at Triple-A Iowa so far hasnt been able to live up to his excellent defensive reputation.
Im concerned about Augie, Quade said. This has been a little longer than we thought, so Im hoping that he can get healthy and this doesnt morph into something that lasts for weeks and weeks. Hes a valuable guy, whether he goes with us (to Chicago or not). Its getting late in camp and I dont think hes real close yet.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.