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.

Preview: Cubs-Marlins Sunday on CSN

Preview: Cubs-Marlins Sunday on CSN

The Cubs take on the Miami Marlins on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m., followed by first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies on the call. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Mike Montgomery (1-3, 2.26 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (3-8, 4.19 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

Jon Lester: It’s go time for Cubs

Jon Lester: It’s go time for Cubs

MIAMI – Jon Lester dropped his head and wiped the sweat from his face. The Cubs ace didn’t jerk his neck and twist his body, hoping the swing and the sound somehow fooled him. The slow turnaround revealed the obvious – the 75-mph curveball out of his left hand flew over the left-field wall and nearly into the Clevelander bar billed as an adult playground. 

Lester gripped the next ball, stared out into the visual noise at Marlins Park and went to work late Saturday afternoon after J.T. Realmuto’s two-out, three-run homer in the first inning. This is the bulldog determination and tunnel vision that’s been the antidote to the big-market pressures at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field and made Lester such a big-game pitcher.

“You really just have to lock it down,” Lester said after doing just that in a 5-3 win. “You have to try to figure out a way to pitch innings. That was one thing I learned at an early age in Boston with ‘Schill’ (Curt Schilling) and Josh (Beckett). It doesn’t matter. Now we start over. You have to take that mindset of ‘It’s back to zero’ and not keep looking at the scoreboard.”

From that Realmuto moment, Lester retired the next 13 hitters he faced, 15 of the next 16 and 18 of his last 20 at a time when the Cubs needed that performance to buy time for their young hitters, weather a series of injuries and survive a brutal schedule.

Lester believed enough in the coming waves of talent to sign with a last-place team after the 2014 season, and got rewarded with his third World Series ring, continually impressed with this group’s poise and maturity.

The day after getting shut out for the sixth time this season, Addison Russell, Ian Happ, Javier Baez and Albert Almora Jr. – four 24-and-under players – combined to go 7-for-15 with five RBI and four runs scored.

“It’s a test for everybody,” Lester said. “These guys are kind of getting broken in early. They’re going to figure it out and we’re going to go. Now it seems like our guys are really feeling comfortable at the plate. We’re having good at-bats, normal at-bats.

“The results will come. This is, obviously, a results-driven industry. But the plans – as far as on the mound and in the batter’s box – just look a lot smoother right now, a lot cleaner and hopefully we can just keep playing good baseball.”

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The Cubs are 38-36, a half-game behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers and in position to win three consecutive series for the first time since April. Whether or not Lester (5-4, 3.83 ERA) returns to Little Havana for the All-Star Game, he is the bellwether for this rotation.  

“Jonny’s just got this thing going on right now,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He knows where the ball is going and he gets the high-number velocity when he wants to. He’s not just pitching at 92, 93, 94 (mph). It’s in his back pocket when he needs it. And he gets it with command when he wants it.

“As well as I’ve seen him pitch – I know he had a great run last year also – from a stuff perspective, command perspective, it’s as good as he can pitch.”

This $155 million investment will at some point become a sunk cost. The Cubs understand the history of nine-figure contracts for pitchers and how desperately they need reinforcements. But almost 100 innings into this title defense, Lester feels like he’s just getting started. 

“I feel better now than I did in April and May, for sure,” Lester said. “I think bigger bodies just take a while sometimes. Some years are different than others. Some years you come out like gangbusters and you’re ready to go and the body feels fine. And other years it takes a while to get into that rhythm of pitching every five days again. This was one of those years.”