The Cubs' biggest job battle of camp got fully underway Tuesday, with Carlos Silva, Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and Casey Coleman among the candidates for the two rotation openings taking their first turns on the mound this spring for bullpen sessions.
But even if the Cubs front office, their manager, the media, the fans and many of the players see a battle for two openings at the back end of the rotation this spring, tha'ts not the way Silva sees it.
``For them [two spots are] open,'' said the highest-paid pitcher in the mix. ``And for whoever is competing [two spots are] open. But for me it's maybe only one is open, because I am one of the starters. So whatever they think, they think. Not me.''
Manager Mike Quade reiterated Tuesday that it is, indeed, a battle for two spots, and that Silva has to earn one of the jobs this spring - although Quade also said guys with track records, such as Silva and Randy Wells, will get extra consideration for that.
Silva said he doesn't mind being told he has to earn his spot again, but he thinks his big first half last year should be worth a starting job entering camp this year.
``Should be. Should be,'' said Silva, who makes $11.5 million this year in the final year of his contract. ``Whatever happened after the first half with my heart and then with my elbow, I don't think it's a reason to take me out of the rotation. But they're the boss. If I have to win my spot again, I'll do it. I don't have a problem with that.''
Silva was the Cubs' top pitcher the first half of last season, winning is first eight decisions on the way to a 9-2, 2.96 mark in his first 16 starts (100 1/3 innings) - but between a heart arrhythmia scare, elbow soreness and ineffectiveness, he made only five more starts, pitching only 12 2/3 innings (1-4, 14.21) the rest of the season.
For Silva, the only thing he has to worry about going forward is staying healthy, now that last year's elbow issues are completely behind him and his heart is a non-issue.
And even if his hefty size seems to be creeping into the conversation again after last year's disappointing finish, he says he's been around long enough to know how that stuff works.
``That doesn't bother me,'' he said. ``When you're doing good, everything's good. When you're doing bad, everything's bad.
``If you put zeroes on the board, you're doing to have the perfect weight, the best-looking face - you are the perfect guy. That's how it was. I spent 2 ½ months like that [last year]. I was the best guy. Everybody cheered for Carlos. And something bad happens, boom, you need to lose weight, you need to do this, you need to be blond.''