Mooney: Zambrano stays out of Silva's business

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Mooney: Zambrano stays out of Silva's business

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Posted: 7:33 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. In Venezuela Carlos Zambrano once played winter ball with Carlos Silva. Theyve grown close over the years and are represented by the same agent. But in this case Zambrano wants to stay out of Silvas business.

Everyone else linked Zambrano with Silva, but from a Cubs perspective all meltdowns are not created equal. At first Zambrano pretended to know nothing about Silvas dugout confrontation with Aramis Ramirez the day before.

What happened? Zambrano said Thursday when asked if he has sympathy for his friend. Yeah, what about it? I cant comment on that. I wasnt there, so next question.

When another reporter pointed out that manager Mike Quade had called a team meeting hours earlier to address it, Zambrano cut him off.

Next question, Zambrano said. Lets talk about today.

Zambrano submitted three scoreless innings during Thursdays 8-7 loss to the Texas Rangers in front of 6,229 fans at HoHoKam Park.

Afterward he mentioned feeling some fatigue with his right arm, but said thats normal in spring training, that its not a concern. Quade echoed those thoughts.

And Silva will be given the opportunity to rejoin Zambrano in the rotation.

While Im not interested in having donnybrooks in the dugout, Quade said, I do like the fact that some people were pissed off. But now lets see if we cant take some of that in the right direction."

During his first speech to the entire team last month, Quade told his players that they should look reporters in the eye and be accountable with the media. Silva refused to comment about the incident on Wednesday and was wheeled out of Maryvale Baseball Park on a golf cart.

On Thursday morning, Silva declined to speak with a group of reporters by his locker, saying hell talk about it later. After the team meeting, he walked out onto the field at HoHoKam Park with a bat and glove in his hands and went through his workout.

Silva was not available when the clubhouse opened back up to the media before the game. A fire alarm went off throughout the entire stadium during that access period. Several players smiled and laughed but no one budged.

The Cubs media-relations department has repeatedly encouraged Silva to tell his side of the story. Quade said Thursday that its up to Silva to figure out how he wants to publicly handle the situation. In the silence, others are left to guess Silvas motivations, and play psychologist.

You got to ask him that, but hes fighting for a spot right now, Ramirez said. It matters for him. It might not matter for somebody like (Matt) Garza or (Ryan) Dempster. They got their spots secured, but he has to good to be in the rotation and obviously he didnt do it (that day).

No one saw it coming, because the Seattle Mariners were just as anxious to get rid of Silva as the Cubs were to unload Milton Bradley. But Silva might have been the citys most effective pitcher last year through interleague play against the White Sox.

On June 26 the day after Zambrano provoked a similar confrontation in the dugout with Derrek Lee the Cubs had a team meeting and Silva pitched well in a tough-luck 3-2 loss at U.S. Cellular Field.

Afterward with his personal record at 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA he said he thought he saw a team coming together.

As a pitcher, we make a lot of mistakes, Silva said that night. When were there on the mound, we become a different person. Sometimes we say stuff that we dont even want to say, but (Zambrano) said it.

I dont know, man, Carlos is a very good friend of mine, but this is my team, too. If Im going to have success and have a good year, I need my team. I need to give the support to my team.

The injuries accumulated from that point. Silva would win only two more games, and none after July 26. He was rushed in an ambulance to a Denver hospital to monitor an abnormally high heart rate, and essentially shut down with elbow tendinitis.

That was around the time when Zambrano came off the restricted list and started pitching like a Cy Young candidate again. Last year two friends were on two different trajectories.

In one sense, Zambrano wants to keep it that way. He wasnt baited by a question about the defenders behind him.

I worry about what I have to do to be ready, Zambrano said. I dont worry about what the offense or the defense needs to do. I leave that to Quade and the coaching staff to teach (everyone) what they need to do to be ready for the season. So its not my concern.

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

Cubs-Pirates game ends in a 1-1 tie

Cubs-Pirates game ends in a 1-1 tie

PITTSBURGH – This definitely felt like something out of spring training, with Thursday night’s game between the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates suspended as rain kept pouring down on PNC Park, ending after five innings in a 1-1 tie.

Major League Baseball considered this an official game – its first tie since it happened to the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros on June 30, 2005 – and stats will still count after an 83-minute rain delay. But there is no need to make it up with the Cubs having already clinched the National League’s No. 1 seed and the Pirates eliminated from wild-card contention.

The last time the Cubs finished in a tie: a 2-2 five-inning draw with the Montreal Expos on May 28, 1993 at Wrigley Field.

    

Questions about Soler, Coghlan, Almora Jr. as Cubs shape playoff roster

Questions about Soler, Coghlan, Almora Jr. as Cubs shape playoff roster

PITTSBURGH – As the Cubs shape the edges of their playoff roster, there are more outfield questions than answers: Is Jorge Soler running out of time? Will Chris Coghlan be ready? Can Albert Almora Jr. handle October?           

After two MRIs on his right side came back clean, Soler rejoined the team on Thursday at PNC Park, so he could work with the training staff and hitting coaches. Yes, Soler shined during seven playoff games last year – putting up three homers, three doubles, five RBI and six walks – but he’s only gotten nine at-bats within the last two weeks and the Cubs sound like they are losing patience. 

“It’s not awful – I don’t think it’s dire,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He needs to get going, though. We got to find out. This is one of those things you want to test. But if you test too soon, then it could totally take him out of an entire postseason. 

“You got to be careful, in a sense. He felt pretty good today, from what I was told. It’s just once in a while he just feels it in a very, very, very minor way. From a training perspective, it’s all good. We just have to wait for him to say: I feel up to par.”      

Coghlan left cleat marks on the W.B. Mason advertisement on PNC Park’s left-field wall during Wednesday night’s 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, spraining his left ankle while jumping for a ball hit over his head.

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Coghlan called it a day-to-day issue and didn’t sound worried about where he fits into the playoff picture. Writing off his struggles with the Oakland A’s – and appreciating the opportunity after getting traded back to the Cubs midseason – the left-handed hitter is batting .326 with a .954 OPS through 18 games in September.

“I’ve been real productive,” Coghlan said. “At this point, they already know what type of player I am. It feels good for me just to contribute to the team. (It’s) fun to be out there playing more often and producing at the level that I know I can.” 

It’s unclear if Soler and Coghlan will play during this weekend’s end-of-the-regular-season series against the Cincinnati Reds, but the Cubs don’t necessarily need to see them in action at Great American Ball Park. 

Injuries could potentially create a spot for Almora, a 22-year-old rookie with first-round pedigree and a high baseball IQ who’s viewed as a future Gold Glove-level defender.

“He’s always ready to play,” Maddon said. “And if you put him in any situation, he’s fine.”