Confident Silva says he’ll be in rotation
By Gordon wittenmyer Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org February 15, 2011 11:36PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs’ front office, their manager, many of their players, the media and the fans might see a battle for two openings at the back end of the team’s rotation this spring. But that’s not the way Carlos Silva sees it.
‘‘For them, [two spots are] open,’’ said Silva, the highest-paid pitcher in the mix. ‘‘And for whoever is competing, [two spots are] open. But for me, only one is open because I am one of the starters. So whatever they think, they think. Not me.’’
Manager Mike Quade reiterated Tuesday that it is, indeed, a battle for two spots behind Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano and that Silva must earn one of the jobs this spring. But Quade also said guys with recent big-league track records, such as Silva and Randy Wells, will get extra consideration.
‘‘[Silva’s] experience speaks for itself, and his start last year was fantastic,’’ Quade said of Silva’s 9-2 record and 2.96 ERA through 16 starts. ‘‘There’s a few guarantees in this game, and I’m not sure that the back end of the rotation has got anybody guaranteed anything.’’
Beyond Silva and Wells, sophomore Andrew Cashner is a wild card in the mix, if only because the Cubs would like to see their top pitching prospect make the transition into a big-league starter. That might mean Silva’s right, after all, about that one-spot thing.
‘‘You factor in taking a look at an exciting young kid like Cashner, and a decision to look at him seriously in the rotation affects everybody,’’ Quade said, ‘‘including those guys we know what to expect out of.’’
Veteran non-roster pitchers Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer also figure to be in the mix, with youngsters Casey Coleman and James Russell — the only potential lefty in the rotation — also getting shots.
Silva said he doesn’t mind being told he has to earn his spot again, but he thinks his big first half last season should be worth a starting job entering camp.
‘‘Should be, should be,’’ said Silva, who will make $11.5 million this season in the final year of his contract. ‘‘Whatever happened after the first half with my heart and then with my elbow, I don’t think it’s a reason to take me out of the rotation. But they’re the boss. If I have to win my spot again, I’ll do it. I don’t have a problem with that.’’
After his strong beginning, Silva made only five more starts last season, going 1-4 with a 14.21 ERA, in part because of an irregular heartbeat, elbow soreness and general ineffectiveness.
Given the likelihood of opening the season with an all right-handed rotation, manager Mike Quade said he expects to start with at least three lefties in the bullpen (Sean Marshall, John Grabow and likely Scott Maine and/or Jeff Russell).
‘‘And it’s not out of the question you break camp with four,’’ he said.
◆ The Cubs acquired minor-league right-hander Robert Coello from the Boston Red Sox for minor-league infielder Tony Thomas and added him to the 40-man roster. Coello is expected to join big-league camp today and compete for a bullpen job. He went a combined 7-6 with a 3.86 ERA at Class AA and Class AAA last season before a September call-up to the Red Sox (4.76 ERA in six relief appearances).