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