Silva points finger at himself: 'It's all my fault'

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Silva points finger at himself: 'It's all my fault'

Friday, March 4, 2011
Posted: 12:48 p.m. Updated: 6:03 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. Carlos Silva will tell you exactly whats on his mind. Thats why he had to be separated from Aramis Ramirez, and why he waited almost 48 hours to tell his side of the story.

By Friday morning, Silva had cooled down enough to explain that the pressure to compete for his place in the Cubs rotation had been weighing on him. A pitcher who will turn 32 next month felt like a rookie all over again.

Silva relies on his sinker and his command. In the bullpen before his first start on Wednesday, he was missing his spots and overthrowing the ball. The results, as he said, were absolutely brutal.

Silva stepped down into the dugout after a six-run first inning and said something like: We need to start making plays here. Ramirez, who committed one of the three errors during that sequence, took it personally. All you saw was a blur of blue jerseys trying to break it up.

I have to prove (it) to them, Silva said. I was thinking: (I) got to show them I can pitch. (There was) too much going on in my mind.

Its like: Boom! Its a big explosion. Thats why I say it was all my fault.

Silva, who indicated that he apologized to Ramirez, said that he wasnt even aware of the team-wide defensive issues this spring. It has been a narrow focus since he showed up at Cubs Convention in January, when reporters started asking him about the openings in the rotation.

Silva didnt think that he should lose his job to the heart issue and elbow injury that limited him to 5.1 innings across the final two months of last season. He looked back on his start 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA and felt he already deserved it.

For now, this episode wont be held against him.

I thought it was over the day after it happened, manager Mike Quade said. Nothing just goes away in the blink of an eye because Q says it (does). But everybody takes a day. Look, I get furious. And if I would address things immediately a lot of times it would not be good. So why should I think players would be any different? You take a step back. You go home, you have dinner, you relax and you come in the next day.

Clearly, Silva has more at stake this month than Ramirez. He does not have the luxury of just getting in shape. He also doesnt believe that this incident will negatively impact his chances of rejoining the rotation.

I dont feel like Im the bad guy, Silva said. Hes going to be the third baseman. Im fighting for my spot. Im dying there to have a good outing.

In a sense Silva didnt really share in the late-season surge that helped Quade keep his job and made the Cubs feel so much better heading into winter. Silva admitted that he doesnt really know Quade all that well, but praised the managers communication skills.

The way he talks, the way he acts hes very professional, very clear, very mature, Silva said. He tried to keep us together (and) thats one thing we really need.

Silva is tight with Carlos Zambrano, but out of respect the two pitchers havent discussed Wednesdays incident. Silva gave Zambrano some space when he got into it with Derrek Lee and went into anger-management counseling. He does not want to be alienated from teammates who already consider the matter closed.

Thats the worst feeling you can have, Silva said. You spend more time with these guys than your own family. Thats the last thing I want. I never had problems with my teammates (before).

I know Im hard. I know Im difficult. I know Im a strong (personality). I say a lot of things, but Im not a guy that comes here to fight or to argue.

Silva can be remarkably candid. He is charming and engaging with the press when he decides he wants to be. He just got a lot off his big chest.

That doesnt mean Im going to pitch great on Monday, he said, but I got to be myself.

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

Jon Lester thinks Cubs have a special player in Willson Contreras: ‘It’s about time we got an offensive catcher’

Jon Lester thinks Cubs have a special player in Willson Contreras: ‘It’s about time we got an offensive catcher’

MESA, Ariz. – Jon Lester couldn't resist when a reporter mentioned the two home runs Willson Contreras launched off Danny Salazar, an All-Star talent who might have changed last year's World Series if he had been at full strength.

"It's about time we got an offensive catcher," Lester said.

Zing! Lester had already seen David Ross on "Dancing with the Stars" by the time he finished up against the Cleveland Indians and met with reporters on Monday night at Goodyear Ballpark. While Lester knew Grandpa Rossy would appreciate that one-liner, there is also some truth behind it.

Yes, Ross became the security blanket for a $155 million pitcher, helped push and encourage young players like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant and got carried off the field after delivering his own Game 7 homer. But whatever Contreras may lack now in game-calling experience and pitcher psychology, he can make up for it with his rocket arm, smooth swing and willingness to learn.

A camp that began with questions about how Lester would work with Contreras ended with a sincere endorsement.

"Willie's obviously very special, to be serious about it," Lester said. "He's definitely going to add a presence to that lineup as far as protecting ‘Rizz' and ‘KB' to where they're not going to be able to just pitch around those guys. We're going to have some other guys to do some damage in the middle to the bottom of that order.

"He's a special kid, just like anybody else on this team. He's (24), so he'll only get better as time goes on and (he gets) the at-bats and the innings and all that stuff. So I'm excited to see him for a full season and how well he can do back there."

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That's another reason why the defending World Series champs might actually look better on paper than the unforgettable 2016 Cubs. Ross did a "Dancing with the Stars" routine based off Young MC's "Bust a Move," a song released in 1989, or years before Bryant, Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Albert Almora Jr. were born.

Before the Cubs packed up and left Arizona, Ross made a promotional appearance in Mesa this week and caught up with some old friends like John Lackey.

"We got rid of Rossy," Lackey told reporters as the Cubs finished their Cactus League schedule with Wednesday's 15-11 win over the Oakland A's at Sloan Park. "He stinks. And we should be better. Actually, I was just inside talking to Rossy and he said that, so that's from him."

On paper, have Cubs put together a better roster than last year's World Series team?

On paper, have Cubs put together a better roster than last year's World Series team?

MESA, Ariz. – One minute into the media scrum outside the West Wing, a Washington reporter asked Theo Epstein if this season would be considered a disappointment if the Cubs don't win the World Series.

"Oof, I hadn't thought too much about 2017 yet today," Epstein said after President Barack Obama's final official White House event. "But, yeah, I mean, that's our goal. I think the organization has come such a long way and we have this talented young core. We're clearly in a very competitive phase where I think if we do our jobs, we could be as good, if not better, than any team in baseball.

"So if you're going to compete, you set your sights for the world championship. It doesn't always work out that way. But we see it as our jobs to do everything we can to be back at the White House next year."

Whether or not Epstein would actually go through with a Donald Trump photo op is a different story. But with the Cubs signaling their Opening Night roster – keeping outfielder Matt Szczur and infielder Tommy La Stella while lefty reliever Brian Duensing begins the season on the disabled list – you could make the case that the team breaking camp on Wednesday looks better on paper than last year's World Series winner.

"This is a crazy talented group," All-Star closer Wade Davis said. "There's 10 or 12 players on this team that are some of the best players in baseball."

That doesn't mean the Cubs will develop the same chemistry or sense of purpose, but this team is completely used to the national spotlight, hanging out with celebrity fans and being followed around like rock stars on the road. 

Epstein compared this camp in Arizona with what the Boston Red Sox faced after ending the 86-year drought. 

"I will never forget in '05 spring training, we had 5,000 people the first day, 3,000 fans every day," Epstein said. "I was expecting it to be as nuts. But it's been refreshingly normal, reflecting the personality of our players, taking everything in stride."   

This doesn't mean the Cubs will stay as healthy as they did last year, when the projected rotation made 152 starts combined. But four-fifths of that group returns with Brett Anderson – given his natural ability, pitching IQ and extensive medical file – appearing to have a higher ceiling and lower floor than Jason Hammel.

As Anderson said: "It's not too often that you have a salty veteran with multiple rings (John Lackey) in front of you and a guy (Kyle Hendricks) that led the league in ERA behind you."

The 2016 Cubs won 103 games and scored 800-plus runs: without Kyle Schwarber contributing a single hit during the regular season; and with Jason Heyward finishing with a .631 OPS (or 103 points below the league average).

Manager Joe Maddon said Geek Department projections have this lineup generating even more offense with Schwarber as the new leadoff guy (even with a brace on his left leg), continued growth from young players like Addison Russell and Willson Contreras and Heyward not being one of the worst hitters in the majors.

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The Cubs are also counting on a full season from Davis, instead of a half-season rental like Aroldis Chapman. Where last year's Opening Night bullpen featured three guys who would get DFA'd or traded by midseason (Neil Ramirez, Clayton Richard, Adam Warren), this version features three guys who've already notched the final out in a World Series (Davis, Koji Uehara, Mike Montgomery).

"All the additions are wonderful complements to what this team was already," Schwarber said. "Upgrades. It's going to be really cool to see how it all plays out this season with more guys getting another year of experience under their belt."

Ian Happ raising his profile and hitting around .400 in the Cactus League should help his trade value if the Cubs need to deal for pitching at the trade deadline. The combination of Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in center field should be an improvement over Dexter Fowler for a team that led the majors in defensive efficiency last year.

As someone with fresh eyes – and the perspective from being on Los Angeles Dodgers teams that won back-to-back National League West titles – Anderson hasn't see any signs of complacency.

"Not at all," Anderson said. "The young guys are still hungry. And the handful of guys that weren't here last year makes you that much more hungry and itchy to get back where they were last year.

"It's a really good mix – if not a perfect mix – of young guys, veteran guys and a couple fresh faces that are eager to get back to what these guys accomplished last year."