Greinke shows Cubs must prepare for the worst

Greinke shows Cubs must prepare for the worst
March 10, 2011, 1:10 am
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted 7:10 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. As satisfying as it might be for some fans to see the Cubs release Carlos Silva, they dont have that luxury.

Will Colvin accept Quade's challenge?

Between this seasons salary and next years buyout, Silva is guaranteed 13.5 million. He performed like an All-Star during the first half of last season and has accounted for more than 1,200 innings in his major-league career. Those factors cannot be ignored.

And as Silva always likes to point out, no one says anything about his weight when hes pitching well.

In the rush to run Silva out of camp after he nearly fought Aramis Ramirez in the dugout, Mike Quade projected a sense of calm. The manager looked beyond Silvas 29.70 ERA and insisted that everyone needed to let the rotation competition play out.

Quade didnt know many of the details surrounding Zack Greinkes injury. The unofficial medical term Dr. Lou Piniella might use is Cubby occurrence.

Sources described Greinke as a loner and an eccentric. He hurt his ribs playing pickup hoops after he reported to spring training. The initial reports out of Brewers camp had Greinke opening the season on the disabled list and missing a few starts.

Quade agreed that it essentially proved his point: A lot can happen between now and Opening Day.

Basketball, motorcycles, is there a list? Quade said Wednesday. Thats part of the reason (the front office) assembled the kind of depth that we think we have here and why you keep everyone going. (You) give them a chance to compete for jobs so you can evaluate. (Its) great insurance if something doesnt go according to plan.

The Cardinals have already lost Adam Wainwright to season-ending Tommy John surgery. The Cubs are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

The Cubs have as many as seven pitchers competing for the final two spots in the rotation (though some are real long shots). But to contend in the National League Central, they need to stay healthy, and receive big seasons from their three front-line starters.

The Cubs didnt get Matt Garza as a direct response to the Brewers trading for Greinke. But those two offseason deals will be compared for the next several years.

Garza made his third start in a Cubs uniform on Wednesday and struggled during a 13-4 loss to the Royals at HoHoKam Park.

Garza tried to establish his fastball early and labored through a five-run first inning. He started mixing in changeups, sliders and curveballs. He was pulled in the third inning and charged with six runs and four walks.

Im not concerned at all, Quade said, because what I saw from him in the last 10 hitters is what I completely expect to see when the lights go on in April.

Hes throwing the daylights out of the ball. (It) just seemed like he took a breath after not having great fastball command, committed to using his soft game and then brought his whole game where it needed to be.

Garzas spring ERA is now 14.85. Physically, he says he feels great, even though a line drive bruised his back and cut short his last start. Unlike Silva, he does not need to show results, and can just work on his craft.

However the rest of the pitching staff shakes out, Garza will need to be one of its leaders. He will be adjusting to a new team, a new league and a new city. The Cubs have a lot riding on the idea that he can handle it.

Its baseball, Garza said. Youre comfortable inside the diamond no matter what (uniform) youre wearing. I like this team. I like being here. I cant wait to get to Chicago.

Right now Im just trying to get ready for it. When that bell dings in April, Im going to be ready to go. You better believe that.

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