Changes of scenery for Coleman and Silva

257236.jpg

Changes of scenery for Coleman and Silva

Saturday, April 9, 2011Posted: 7:55 p.m. Updated: 10:50 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Casey Coleman shipped all his stuff to Iowa, but he never made it to Des Moines. He flew from Arizona to Texas and the beginning of what he thought would be his Triple-A season.

Things havent gone according to plan with the Cubs rotation, except for this: Coleman was always viewed as the ideal insurance policy, a low-maintenance pitcher who isnt afraid of the bright lights and feels like he belongs here.

Its just that no one thought the 23-year-old right-hander would be recalled this quick. Either way, Coleman will be facing Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, instead of the Round Rock Express.

If Carlos Silva hadnt ripped the entire Cubs organization, he might have been there on Saturday, standing in front of his locker in the Miller Park clubhouse and saying something ridiculous.

If Silvas going to prove the Cubs wrong, it will reportedly start on a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees.

Silva trusted Larry Rothschild, the pitching coach who left Chicago to take the same job in New York. The Yankees have been taking on all kinds of projects Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Mark Prior and, now, Silva.

But with Randy Wells (forearm) and Andrew Cashner (rotator cuff) on the disabled list, Silva almost certainly would have received another chance by next week. That is, if he had accepted a Triple-A assignment and hadnt dared the Cubs to release and pay him close to 11.5 million to go away.

Instead this is an opportunity for Coleman, who certainly understands the business. Hes a third-generation big-league pitcher and his fathers a pitching coach in the Detroit Tigers system.

The Cubs love his makeup and poise and Coleman rewarded their faith by going 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts late last season.

(That) made all the difference in the world for me, Coleman said. I was much more comfortable in spring training.

The Cubs dont know when Wells and Cashner will be healthy enough to rejoin the rotation, and at this point they dont have many viable options beyond Coleman. So this doesnt feel like an audition, though Coleman isnt taking anything for granted.

You never know, Coleman said. If you had asked me how soon I would have been up here, I never would have imagined it this quick. So you just got to take it day-by-day, start-by-start and help this team win games and hopefully it lasts a lot longer than you think.

Coleman knows thats how Wells got his foot in the door. Wells was supposed to have a temp job when he got called up in May 2009, but wound up making 59 starts from there through the end of last season.

Coleman is 6-foot and weighs 185 pounds. He has only 57 innings on his major-league resume. But he inspires a lot of confidence in the clubhouse.

He won his first game in the majors on Aug. 23 last year in Washington. That was also Mike Quades first game as a big-league manager. Quade kept a few pieces of memorabilia from that night, and Colemans name is all over it.

Coleman already made a lasting impression. Now its time to unpack and settle in for what he hopes will be a long-term assignment.

It was tough to send him out because he did such a good job for us last year, Quade said. But we sent him out for exactly this reason. (Hes) the perfect fit.
Etc.

Starlin Castros view was partially blocked when Carlos Gomez stole second in the eighth inning of Saturdays 6-0 loss. The ball grazed his glove and hit Castro right in the jaw. The shortstop was shaken up but says hell be ready to play on Sunday. Jeff Samardzija walked four batters on Saturday night, bringing his total to eight in three innings this season. The Cubs havent stolen a base through the seasons first eight games, the first time thats happened since 1964.

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

Willson Contreras: King of the bat flip

willson_contreras_king_of_bat_flips_slide.jpg
AP

Willson Contreras: King of the bat flip

Willson Contreras oozes swag.

The Cubs' fiery catcher has always worn his emotions on his sleeve and Friday was no exception.

Contreras hammered Carlos Martinez's 2-2 offering into the basket in left-center to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead and his bat flip/reaction was incredible:

Here's a closer look:

It's funny that Contreras even reacted that way given the ball just *barely* got out, but hey, a homer's a homer.

Contreras has been flat-out raking since the All-Star Break, going 10-for-23 with five runs, three doubles, three homers and nine RBI. That's a .435/.480/.957 slash line and 1.437 OPS in the six second-half games he's played in.

That's boosted his season line to .276/.341/.496 (an .837 OPS) with 14 homers. He's on pace to drive in 85 runs, second only to Anthony Rizzo on the Cubs.

Yes, this truly is becoming "Willy's" team.

Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season

Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season

Jose Quintana emerged from the third-base dugout, taking in Wrigley Field for the first time in a Cubs uniform.

But he quickly snapped back to Earth as he realized he and the other Cubs starting pitchers were to take batting practice and he forgot to bring his bat out.

Ah, the life of an American League pitcher.

It was no big deal, obviously. And minutes later, Quintana's new teammates were marveling at his swing. Even Jake Arrieta — who has five career homers (all during the last three seasons) and sported a .720 OPS last year — was impressed.

Quintana doesn't start until Sunday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, so he has two days to acclimate to Wrigley Field.

Which is good, because Quintana showed up for work today — he took Lake Shore Drive in (better known as LSD to Chicagoans) — and didn't even know where the players' entrance was:

But once he figured that out, he was all smiles, learning the lay of the land from Cubs traveling secretary Vijay Tekchandani.

It's also good for the 28-year-old left-hander to get some consistency in his life.

Everything will be easier from this point on after he admitted the trade rumors had been bouncing around his head all season.

"It was my first time [being mentioned in trades]," Quintana said. "I never heard anything about trades [before]. It was on my mind all the time. 

"[Until I realized] it's because I'm doing something good and teams want me. I just try to do my job in season. It's really hard when you have trade [rumors] around you, but for me, it's over now and I'm excited for that and really happy to be here."

The White Sox organization was all Quintana had known since 2006 and after watching as teammates Chris Sale and Adam Eaton were shipped out of town over the winter, it is easy to see how it would've been tough dealing with the uncertain future. 

Quintana entered this season with a career 3.41 ERA, but that mark sat at 5.60 through the first two months of the season as the trade rumors swirled.

But the veteran southpaw eventually figured it out — just like he said — and has been on fire since then, posting a 2.30 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 47 innings since the start of June.

His first game as a Cub — Sunday against the Orioles in Baltimore, still with a DH — resulted in 12 Ks across seven shutout innings.

Quintana is excited for his first start in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Sunday night (so much so that he used the word "excited" at least seven times in his five-minute media session) and just recently got a few bats to put that BP prowess into action in a game.

He was pushed back a day, so he will completely miss the Crosstown series next week and will not pitch against his former mates. 

That might be the right move, as he admitted it would've been very difficult with the trade just over a week old by the time Monday's Crosstown opener comes along.

"It was difficult for me because I played there for six seasons," he said. "It wasn't easy when I heard [I was traded]. It was a little hard for me, but I understand it's part of business and this is the best for me, too.

"Trades happen for a reason and I'm really happy to be here with these teammates, this organization; they were champions last year. We have a really good chance this year. I'm excited to be here."

As for the trade rumors, Quintana is content now. Especially since he and his family don't even have to move.

"As my wife said," Quintana stated, "'You can sleep now.'"