Silva not shut down yet, Hendry happy with Zambrano

Silva not shut down yet, Hendry happy with Zambrano

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010
Updated 10:22 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

ST. LOUIS Carlos Silva hopes to pitch again this season, but doesnt know if that will happen. The Cubs will wait a week before they make a determination.

Silva rejoined the team on Tuesday at Busch Stadium after being diagnosed with right elbow tendinitis the day before at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The plan is for Silva to receive treatment and medication for a week and then see where hes at physically.

By then, there will be only 13 games left in the season, and the Cubs are already looking at a six-man rotation.

Tom Gorzelanny, whos been recovering from a bruised left hand, is available as an emergency long reliever Tuesday and Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. Otherwise, Gorzelanny is expected to throw a simulated game on Friday and rejoin the rotation next week, likely facing the San Francisco Giants.

Silva, 31, said hes been feeling discomfort for awhile. He took longer to get loose during his last bullpen session and it bothered him while playing catch on Sunday in Milwaukee. That forced him to visit Dr. Stephen Gryzlo in Chicago and the Cubs to scratch him from his scheduled start the next night in St. Louis.

With the Milton Bradley deal, the Cubs bought low on Silva, and then saw immediate returns. He put together a first half that made him a serious All-Star candidate. But a pitcher who was 9-2 with a 2.96 ERA on July 6 has pitched 12 23 innings since then, could finish the season at 10-6 and 4.22.

Shoulder issues limited Silva to only 30 13 innings last season with the Seattle Mariners. And his health has been an ongoing issue. He left Coors Field in an ambulance on Aug. 1 with an abnormally high heart rate that eventually required a surgical procedure.

Silvas done more than the Cubs ever could have reasonably expected. He performed well enough with the Minnesota Twins to earn his current 48 million contract, and showed signs of that pitcher in a Cubs uniform. In 2011, the question will be whether he pitches like he did in the first or second half of this season.

The only thing I have to do is stay positive, Silva said, and keep building and keep working.

Carlos Zambrano has a no-trade clause in his 91.5 million contract, so he will ultimately decide where he pitches the next two seasons. General manager Jim Hendry appeared on a St. Louis radio station and was asked Tuesday if he hopes to see the 29-year-old pitcher in a Cubs uniform in 2011.

He really seems to have gotten himself in a good spot, Hendry said. His last five or six starts have been outstanding. We've had Carlos since he was 16. I know people don't believe this but 90 percent of the time he's really been a pleasure to be around and a quality citizen.

He isn't too old to get it together and be a heck of a pitcher again.

Whoever manages the Cubs next season will of course be expected to go 162-0. And the second-guessing will almost certainly begin before Opening Day, which will be April 1 at Wrigley Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Highlights of the 2011 schedule released Tuesday night include: a trip to Fenway Park (May 20-22); a visit from the New York Yankees (June 17-19); and the White Sox interleague series at U.S. Cellular Field (June 20-22) and Wrigley Field (July 1-3).

Mike Quade held Starlin Castro out of Tuesdays lineup as the rookie shortstop deals with a bruised hip.

If I would have asked him to go, the manager said, (then) he would have been in there. (We) want the kid to get better, but we dont want to ask too much.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

After playoff bullpen issues, Cubs again see Pedro Strop as a late-game force

After playoff bullpen issues, Cubs again see Pedro Strop as a late-game force

MESA, Ariz. – Inside Wrigley Field’s state-of-the-art clubhouse, the Cubs posted a blown-up image of the 2015 Sports Illustrated cover where Pedro Strop is high-stepping next to Kris Bryant down the third-base line, the mosh pit awaiting at home plate.

Between his tilted-hat look, chest-pounding celebrations and overall joy for the game, Strop sets an example for the younger guys in the bullpen and the Latin players in the clubhouse. Strop has been so valuable that Jake Arrieta could have never thrown a pitch in a Cubs uniform and Theo Epstein’s front office still would have considered the Scott Feldman trade with the Baltimore Orioles an absolute success.  

Yet when the long rebuild reached its apex – and manager Joe Maddon searched for World Series answers – Strop had already been marginalized in the bullpen. A freak injury – Strop heard a pop and tore the meniscus in his left knee while trying to slide and field a groundball in August – bumped him from his role as the seventh- or eighth-inning stopper.  

“It was a little difficult,” Strop said. “After I came back from my surgery, it was a different situation. But it’s something that you got to get used to and understand the situation, understand how deep our bullpen is and just go and fight whenever they ask you to.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal.”  

During Sunday’s media session, Maddon dismissed any issues with Strop (2.85 ERA) or Hector Rondon, the former 30-save closer who strained his right triceps last summer and didn’t quite get his timing down for the playoffs. Down 3-1 in the World Series, Maddon summoned Aroldis Chapman to throw 97 pitches combined in Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Cleveland Indians.

“Listen, it’s not a lack of trust,” Maddon said. “(Strop) just got hurt. And when you get hurt like that at that time of the year, it’s hard to play catch-up. When guys get injured in-season and you get to the moment where you’re trying to win a championship, you got to put like personal feelings aside on both sides of it, whether you’re managing it or playing.

“I have nothing but trust. My God, the threat is when you have him, you want to use him too much, always. And the same thing with Ronnie. I talked to Ronnie about that – I don’t want to put him in a position. I think Rondon got hurt last year because part of it was my greediness on using him too much in the early part of the season.

“You really have to battle against that when you get guys that good. You want to use them all the time. (I have) a tremendous amount of trust in both of those guys. It’s just a matter of utilizing them properly and keeping them healthy.”

[MORE: What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez]

Since the middle of the 2013 season, Strop has notched 84 holds for the Cubs, putting up a 2.68 ERA and a 0.984 WHIP to go with 254 strikeouts in 211-plus innings. At a time when a $10 billion industry is reassessing the value of high-leverage relievers, Strop will make $5.5 million this year before hitting the open market.

“You never know,” Strop said. “I would love to repeat the championship season and win another one here before I hit free agency. Hopefully, they want to bring me back. I really like the city of Chicago. I love the fans and I love my team and the coaches.

“After this season, it’s going to become business, so hopefully we can put something together.”  

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

MESA, Ariz. – In an alternate universe, Javier Baez might have become the goat after committing two errors in a World Series Game 7. But the young Cubs played without a sense of panic and wanted to write their own history.

Baez shrugged it off in Cleveland and homered off Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber that night. Baez will be remembered as a breakout star from those playoffs, a game-changing defensive force with his mixture of lateral range, rocket-arm strength and instincts for tagging.

But there have also been times where manager Joe Maddon would like Baez to be a little more boring. The next stage of Javy Being Javy would be showing more of the consistency that made Addison Russell an All-Star shortstop at the age of 22. It may also partially explain why Maddon for now still sees Ben Zobrist as his primary second baseman, even after Baez started all 17 postseason games at that position.  

“You definitely continually speak about (how) you want guys to make the routine play routinely,” Maddon said Sunday at the Sloan Park complex. “I’ve often talked about lack of chrome. Gary DiSarcina (with the Angels) was the guy that really embedded that thought in my head, because he was so chrome-less and he was so good at the routine play. I used to always yell that at my infielders in instructional league: ‘No chrome!’

“Having said all that, Javy comes from a different background, and he has a flair about his game, so I don’t necessarily want to subtract that. But just have him understand the routine stuff has to be made routinely well.

“He’s very capable of that. I think as his game continues to develop and mature, you’ll see him make less mistakes, whether it’s that or sometimes even on the bases. He’ll make a spectacular play on the bases and then again do something that you don’t like. But I think that’s just part of his nature and his game.” 

Zobrist delivered a World Series MVP performance after signing a four-year, $56 million contract last winter with the idea that focusing on one position – instead of moving around as a super-utility guy – would help him age better.

“Last year, I played 147 games,” said Zobrist, who will turn 36 in May. “I don’t know what that number’s going to look like. You got to stay healthy. There were probably only a few games that I missed because there was physically something that was keeping me from playing.

“We’ll play it by ear. Some of those will have to do with if I’m a little tired and the matchup is right, maybe they’ll choose to give me an off day on certain days. But I know that there’s other times last year where – whether you’re tired or not – you got to be in there because that’s the matchup that works best for the club. So just make adjustments as the weeks and series go on.”

[MORE: After playoff bullpen issues, Cubs again see Pedro Strop as late-game force]

Maddon is already thinking of ways to rest Zobrist – who played into early November after helping the 2015 Royals win the World Series – on a team with so many versatile athletes. The Cubs could also try to go back to last year’s model, putting Baez wherever their scouting-and-data projections predicted the ball would be hit most that night.

“We have to balance a lot of different things out,” Maddon said. “(Javy’s) going to play some second, of course, and so will Zo. Zo’s going to be out there primarily, and then we’ll work Javy in there. But Zo can also do what he’s done in the past and play some outfield.

“What happens – and I hate to say it like (this) – but baseball has a very cruel way of determining things. I don’t want it to be any injuries. I’d rather have to figure all of this stuff out on a daily basis. Javy was so significant to the conclusion of last season. He’s going to be very significant again this year and years to come.

“It’s all in theory right now. Of course, he’s going to play. Of course, he’s going to play a lot. How it’s going to balance out? We’re not 100 percent sure yet. But he’s pretty darned good.”