Silva turns to Zambrano after another rough outing
By Joe Cowley email@example.com March 8, 2011 3:46PM
Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva adjusts his cap after giving up the fifth run on the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels during a spring training baseball game at HoHo Kam Park, Monday, March 7, 2011, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
MESA, Ariz. — It’s not the type of image that would seem to have Cubs fans sleeping well at night.
There’s pitcher Carlos Silva, lying on a big leather couch, spilling his innermost thoughts and fears to his newest life coach, his anchor, his teammate — Carlos Zambrano.
Considering the camp that Silva has endured, whatever works.
In his first start of Cactus League play last week against the Milwaukee Brewers, the right-hander allowed six runs (three earned) in one inning before getting into an altercation with third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
His follow-up Monday?
No punches thrown, but plenty of hits. Silva allowed 10 of them and eight runs in 21/3 innings.
“Right after I finished pitching, I texted Zambrano, and I was telling him, ‘Man, I don’t know what’s going on,’ ” Silva said. “What he told me in the text was, ‘You just need to forget everything, go out there and pitch and do your thing. You know how to pitch, you did it before, so why can’t you do it again?’ It’s true.’’
That didn’t mean Silva was emotion-free after watching his ERA balloon to 29.70. Asked if he believed his spot in the starting rotation was in jeopardy, Silva took umbrage to the line of questioning.
“You always come in here . . . man, you need new questions,’’ he told the reporter. “That’s the only question you always ask. Next question, please.’’
Silva did calm down a bit, but he made it very clear that the pressure to perform is bigger than usual this spring — and that pressure might be winning.
“To be honest with you guys, I’m always worrying,’’ Silva said. “Is that going to ruin me? I mean, last time I didn’t even talk to my own son. Like right now, I was sitting here for a long time, let it go and [when my son] comes in with a big smile, treat him like my son. Forget this game for a little bit.
“Just keep working and try to get better. Mentally, for me, I’m going to be fine. I feel great. Man, I feel strong. But look at that one inning. You have that type of inning, and it’s like, ugh . . . that’s what people see.’’
That’s why Silva reached out to Zambrano on Monday. If there is a poster boy for battling with emotional demons, Silva need not look any further than a few lockers down.
Zambrano was sent to anger-management sessions after a dugout meltdown last season. After returning to the team, he went 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his last 11 outings.
The difference between Zambrano and Silva this spring, however, is Zambrano’s name is written down for the rotation in pen. That’s not the case for Silva. After starting last season 8-0, he went 2-6 before being shut down the final two months with heart and elbow issues.
Silva is owed $11.5 million this season, and he has a $12 million mutual option for next season with a $2 million buyout.
In other words, Silva basically is untradeable, so he figures to get the benefit of the doubt.
“See you in five days; he’ll be better,’’ manager Mike Quade said. “I’ve watched some of the best I’ve ever seen have days like this down here. It’s about the body of work and a whole bunch of other things.’’
As far as Silva’s choice for life coach, Quade could care less if it’s Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew or Dr. Z.
“Look, I don’t care whoever your friends are when you have a tough day,’’ Quade said. “You call on them for support. Who is going to comfort him other than a guy that is a good friend of his? I believe Silva will be OK. I really do.’’