Manager Mike Quade lost some sleep Tuesday night while making some pitching decisions. On Wednesday, he’ll be tossing and turning over which regulars make the final 25-man roster. The Cubs need to pick an extra infielder and outfielder for the bench.
* Carlos Zambrano threw 82 pitches over four innings in the Cubs’ Minor League camp for the Triple-A team against the Diamondbacks.
* Casey Coleman had a solid 1-2-3 inning in relief in the seventh Wednesday. The right-hander could be an option in the bullpen. “Casey has been a starter,” Quade said. “You see an inning today [and think] could he come back and give you three [innings] in a couple days? Could he do that in the midst of being a Major League starter someday? It’s encouraging to see him get up in a bullpen situation, come in and get three outs there.”
* Carlos Silva had his best spring outing, giving up one run on three
hits over six innings in the Cubs’ 3-1 win over the Athletics. Now what?
“This means that decisions remain tough and we have to figure it out and
we’re thrilled that guys are competing and making it tough,” Quade
said. “We’ll see how this plays out and I’ll milk it as long as I can,
to be honest.”
Silva, competing with Andrew Cashner and Braden Looper for the final spot, took to heart some advice from pitcher Ryan Dempster.
“Today he said, ‘I don’t want you to give me 100 percent, I want you to
give me 80 percent,'” Silva said of his conversation with the Cubs’
Opening Day starter.
That might sound counter-productive, but the message was to try to not
do too much. Calm down, don’t overthrow, and trust your stuff. Wednesday
was Silva’s last chance.
“I needed this game,” Silva said. “It doesn’t matter if I make the
rotation, it’s personal. I needed a good game. I don’t know what the
decision will be but personally I needed this game just to start
building my confidence and trust myself a little more. Next time I’ll go
out with a more positive attitude.”
— Carrie Muskat
Cubs manager Mike Quade may not get much sleep Tuesday night. Quade met in the morning with GM Jim Hendry, assistant GM Randy Bush, pitching coach Mark Riggins and bench coach Pat Listach to go over the roster, including the fifth spot in the rotation.
Randy Wells, who has a 1.35 ERA this spring, has secured the No. 4 spot, and it’s down to Carlos Silva, Andrew Cashner and Braden Looper for the last opening. Silva, who has a 15.88 ERA in four outings, will start Wednesday against the Athletics, while Carlos Zambrano, who is set, will go to the Minor League camp to get his work in. Cashner threw nearly 60 pitches over three innings Monday in the rain against the Angels but has not been stretched out to 80 pitches.
“I have a lot to sleep on and or not sleep on tonight regarding the pitching and other areas, too,” Quade said. “In the next couple days, we have to get this thing done. The truck’s leaving Sunday.”
That’s the truck that carries players’ personal belongings to Chicago.
— Carrie Muskat
Carlos Silva was looking for a rabbit’s foot on Saturday. The right-hander had a tough luck outing against the Reds Friday in which he gave up eight runs — five earned — on 11 hits over three innings. The numbers are ugly but Silva got nothing but encouragement from Cubs manager Mike Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins.
“Everybody [said], ‘Your stuff is good, your stuff looks great, you’re going to be fine, keep working,'” Silv said Saturday. “I feel comfortable, I feel relaxed and strong but man. I was talking to [Marcos] Mateo and said yesterday, I threw one fastball inside to Joey Votto and it’s a base hit.
“I’m not a guy who believes in good luck, but right now, I’ve got a lot of bad luck,” he said. “I told Mateo we’re going to go to the Grand Canyon to jump to see if it goes away.”
We’re not sure how jumping into the Grand Canyon can change someone’s luck. Finding a four-leaf clover might be tougher but it’s safer.
Carlos Zambrano started Friday’s game and had difficulty getting a grip on his breaking pitches because of the dry air. Silva, battling for one of the openings in the rotation, agreed.
“For a breaking ball, it’s very tough,” he said. “You feel like the ball is coming out of your hand .”
So, we should look for a good luck charm?
“Find me a big one, too,” Silva said.
— Carrie Muskat
Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner will each get another chance Tuesday to convince manager Mike Quade they are best suited for the rotation. Wells and Cashner will start in the Cubs’ final split squad games, with Wells facing the Rockies at HoHoKam Park in Mesa and Cashner going to Phoenix to start against the Athletics. The two right-handers are vying for the vacancies with Carlos Silva, Casey Coleman, Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and James Russell.
“I’m not closer to nailing stuff down but of that mix, whether it’s bullpen, whether it’s fourth and fifth, I think a lot of guys have been better lately and that’s what we’re looking for,” Quade said Monday. “Until I have to make a decision, we’ll let this thing play out.”
Cashner will be an interesting call. Has he developed his secondary pitches enough to be considered a starter? Do the Cubs feel he needs more experience and would benefit from pitching at Triple-A Iowa? Or, if he’s not ready to start, do they keep his talented arm in the bullpen with the big league team?
“My sense is he has Major League value in whatever role,” Quade said. “It’s a tough call. He’s in a competition with other people. I don’t have an opinion on [whether he start in Minors] yet but we’ve got two weeks after the off day, so obviously at some point these are the kind of tough questions down the stretch that have to be answered.”
— Carrie Muskat
Manager Mike Quade on Carlos Silva after his rough outing Monday:
“I tend to give a guy who has this kind of career and the longevity he’s had some space to do that,” Quade said. “It’s not his first rodeo. He was fine today, he went about his business great. He worked through a little trouble in the first couple innings and just couldn’t make a pitch or two to get out of the third inning. I make nothing out of this other than it’s a rough day. He’ll be fine.”
Silva gave up eight runs on 10 hits over 2 1/3 innings but did not get the loss as the Cubs rallied from a 9-0 deficit to beat the Angels, 14-13, on Bryan LaHair’s walkoff RBI single.
* Marlon Byrd was thrown out at home trying to score on Aramis Ramirez’s double in the fourth. The ball went deep into the left field corner, an area known as Satan’s corner, Quade said.
“It’s Spring Training for everyone,” Quade said. “I think [third base coach Ivan DeJesus] pulled the trigger a little soon.”
* Tyler Colvin is expected to make his next start at first base Thursday. He was charged with his third error this spring in right on Monday.
* Closer Carlos Marmol is trying to work on his fastball command. “If he gets really good fastball command-wise with this [his slider], it’s game, set, match,” Quade said. “Any improvement ‘Marm’ can make on his fastball command is going to help him and why don’t we say this about everybody? We all talk about breaking stuff, but it boils down to fastball command. I don’t care if it’s a bunch of these kids trying to make the club or if it’s [Ryan Dempster]. The better your fastball command, the better your game is.”
* Here’s some trivia: Greg Maddux faced 20,421 batters in his career. Just 310 of them saw a 3-0 count. That’s roughly one every three starts. Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors for the research.
— Carrie Muskat
Here’s Monday’s Cubs lineup vs the Angels in Mesa. Carlos Silva is starting, and expected to throw about 45 pitches. It’s his first start since his one inning last Wednesday in Maryvale when he gave up a pair of two-run homers, then got into a dugout scuffle with Aramis Ramirez.
— Carrie Muskat
Mike Quade met Thursday with the entire team to discuss the rash of defensive lapses, but did not call Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez into his office to make sure the two veterans had made peace after their dugout scuffle. Silva and Ramirez had a brief skirmish in the dugout after the first inning of the Cubs-Brewers game in Phoenix Wednesday. The Cubs made three errors in the inning, including one by Ramirez, and Silva served up a pair of two-run homers. Chicago now has committed 14 errors in four games this spring.
“We just put things to bed and made sure things don’t fester and kind of get a re-commitment to cleaning up some of the mistakes we made,” Quade said. “It’s not just about saying we need to clean some of this stuff up, it’s offering solutions and ideas that we think may help clean things up.
“That doesn’t mean it happens overnight,” Quade said. “You want to make sure people are committed to the work they’re doing, that they understand the differences in Arizona and the things that go on here, be it pop ups or the speed of the infield, all the things that this place presents. You just emphasize particularly the defensive end of it.”
Quade was the only one who talked at the meeting. He was glad to see some of the players were as ticked off as he was by the sloppy play.
“I’m glad people are [upset],” he said. “We need to channel that anger at the opposition and within ourselves and that’s all. Just handle it the way you need to handle it. I think we put that to bed and as far as I’m concerned, we did.”
He did not call Silva and Ramirez into his office, opting to let the two resolve their differences. That doesn’t mean he wants to see more altercations.
“Look, if we were going to have everybody fighting who has made mistakes this spring, we’d have the cage match of all time,” Quade said. “Let’s be honest — it hasn’t been good. It’s surprised me because I’ve been happy with the work.”
— Carrie Muskat
Mike Quade will have a team meeting prior to Thursday’s game to discuss not only the sloppy play but the skirmish in the dugout between Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez.
“You’ve got two [ticked] off people,” Quade said of the brief altercation. “It was a brutal first inning, plenty of blame to go around, and people get frustrated. Maybe that’s what we frickin’ need. Maybe we need to get [ticked] off. It’s day four of Spring Training and I have no business getting fired up after four games. Today was tough to watch. It hasn’t been fun to begin with but today was tough. Guys get upset and we’ll handle it in-house.”
Silva was mad after the Cubs made three errors in the first inning against the Brewers, including one by Ramirez. Silva also gave up two two-run homers in the inning.
“Silva was frustrated and made a general comment defensively, and I think ‘Ramy’ took issue with it,” Quade said. “Ramy had a bad inning and he knew Silva was upset and decided to tell him, ‘Hey, I don’t need to hear that.’ It was an unfortunate deal but it’s not a big deal.”
Quade did address the players in the dugout at the time. He said his comments were not worth printing, but that they needed to wake up and play baseball. It’s only four games into Spring Training and it’s time for a talk, Quade said.
“These are things you don’t like and don’t want,” Quade said. “You want everything to go real smooth and it doesn’t all the time. I’d almost rather that than complacency. … As frustrated as I was watching, you wonder will somebody say something besides me? We’ll try to build on this tomorrow and wake the group up.”
Some may compare this to Carlos Zambrano’s tirade last June after the first inning of the Interleague game against the White Sox.
“That’s ridiculous,” Quade said. “I wouldn’t compare that unless there was something I missed.”
Even if the Silva-Ramirez fracas didn’t happen, Quade said he needed to talk to the team Thursday because of the sloppy play.
“I’ve got to do it for me,” he said. “I can’t sleep if I don’t address this thing.”
It’s a tough test for the first-year manager.
“I’ve been thrilled to death the way camp has gone,” Quade said. “I haven’t been happy with
the way the games have gone. I do like piss and vinegar and I’m glad guys are irritated but we have to channel it in the right direction. The good news is we have 26, 27 days to get it
straightened out. As a club, it hasn’t been good.”
— Carrie Muskat
Carlos Silva apparently wasn’t happy with the first inning on Wednesday and was involved in a skirmish with Aramis Ramirez in the Cubs dugout. The Cubs made three errors in the inning, including one by Ramirez. Silva had walked the leadoff batter and also served up a pair of two-run homers. As the first inning ended, some players had to be separated. It’s not clear who Silva was upset at. He did not return for a second inning and chose to leave the ballpark without commenting to reporters.
“It was obvious he was upset,” Ramirez said. “Nobody wants to make errors. Nobody feels worse than an infielder or outfielder when they make errors, but we talked about it. Everything’s back to normal now.”
“We don’t have to fight,” Alfonso Soriano said. “We just want to play to win.”
— Carrie Muskat
Tyler Colvin will make his first spring start at first base Friday when the Cubs travel to Surprise to face the Royals. Colvin has played outfield in games so far but the team wants to see if he can sub there.
* Outfielder Fernando Perez was sidelined with a bruised left shoulder injured during a diving catch on Monday. Lou Montanez will get more playing time while Perez heals. The concern was that Perez had hurt his left wrist, which required surgery in March 2009.
* Looking ahead, Carlos Silva will start Wednesday vs. the Brewers, Carlos Zambrano get his second start Thursday against the Rangers, and Matt Garza get his first start and second appearance on Friday vs. the Royals.
* The Cubs have made six errors in their first two games but manager Mike Quade hasn’t ordered extra drills.
“Whenever you make mistakes, there’s a concern,” Quade said. “The first week of the season, I’ll look at positives. Whether we win or lose, it is about the process. You hate losing but I looked at all the names I had down there that I was pleased with, whether it was at-bats or pitching or defense, in spite of the errors we made, and I left with a smile and that’s the main thing. When you start losing a lot of games because we’re sloppy from start to finish or our key guys aren’t swinging the bats, I’d be more alarmed.”
* Angel Guzman is on schedule to throw a live BP session on Wednesday. He underwent shoulder surgery one year ago.
“Miracles can happen,” Quade said of the right-hander, whose career has been interrupted by elbow and shoulder injuries. “Let’s see if he can’t get healthy and get back throwing the way he did.”
— Carrie Muskat