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Carlos Zambrano fakes a Cubs drama; Silva’s is serious

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



MESA, Ariz. — The tale of two Carloses on Friday involved a mock fight staged by one and very little fight shown by the other.

As far as the Cubs’ pitching staff goes, their stories appear headed for much different final chapters.

Carlos Zambrano, the six-time Opening Day starter who has responded impressively this spring since being told he’ll start behind Ryan Dempster, used up enough pitches on a hot, breezy hitter’s day that manager Mike Quade went to get him with two out in the fifth.

Zambrano pretended he didn’t see Quade and then engaged in an animated discussion with him, with a smile evident.

‘‘I was just playing with him,’’ Zambrano said afterward. ‘‘I just told him, ‘What if I don’t want to leave?’ He said, ‘Then we’re going to fight here.’ . . . He said, ‘Get out of here.’ ’’

For Quade, that’s as good a sign as any that Zambrano’s latest attitude adjustment — never mind his early-camp assertion that he’s ‘‘cured’’ — might be the one that sticks long term.

‘‘For him to be in that frame of mind, even in a spring-training game, is a good thing,’’ Quade said. ‘‘He was not happy, believe me. But it’s all good. In the long run, it’s a good thing for him.’’

Of course, nobody was happy about Carlos Silva getting shelled for two four-run innings out of the three he pitched — albeit, with a pair of errors contributing.

‘‘We’ll see what his next outing brings, and we’ll see how that sets up,’’ said Quade, who doesn’t consider the bullpen an option for the $11.5 million right-hander, despite his poor spring. ‘‘I think right now we look at him as a starter — that’s the only way we look at him. I think he could do [the bullpen] if we needed him to, but I don’t think that’s even worth addressing right now.’’

There may be no choice but to address it by the time Silva pitches again in the middle of next week.

‘‘Silva comes out next time and dazzles like he did last year? You never know,’’ Quade said.

NOTES: Despite allowing six runs, including five on homers by Scott Rolen and Joey Votto, Carlos Zambrano said he felt strong and that he wasn’t showing the division-rival Cincinnati Reds everything he had. The 40-hit, 27-run game between the teams suggests elements were in play, too.

‘‘Thank God we play in Chicago and not Arizona,’’ Zambrano said. ‘‘Better air.’’

◆ The Cubs used a designated hitter Friday because Zambrano has developed a sore wrist through right-handed batting practice.

‘‘Next time I’ll be hitting,’’ he said.

◆ Non-roster veteran Augie Ojeda ‘‘isn’t real close’’ to returning from the back spasms that have sidelined him for more than a week, putting him in jeopardy of not having enough time to make a run at rookie Darwin Barney (.382 with sharp fielding) for the last infield bench job.



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