MESA, Ariz. - So much for that rabbit's foot Carlos Silva was looking for. The Cubs took rookie Marcos Mateo over the $11.5-million Silva for the final spot on the pitching staff and plan to step up efforts to trade Silva by Opening Day.
Mateo, a rookie who missed about a week early in camp because of the death of his father, earned the final spot in the bullpen after rebounding to produce a 1.29 ERA this spring, including especially dominant recent outings.
``We told Carlos Silva there will not be a spot for him unless there was an injury between now and opening day,'' general manager Jim Hendry said. ``oe will try to explore trade possibilties for him with other clubs that might have some interest in taking him right to the big leagues.''
The Cubs have received very little trade interest in Silva since the off-season but obviously are willing to eat more of the $11.5 million remaining on his contract than they were a few months - or even weeks - ago.
``He pitched really well the last outing,'' Hendry said of Silva's six-inning start against Oakland, in which he allowed a first-inning run and retired 17 of the final 18 he faced. ``He struggled early. We just felt like we wanted Cashner to get the starts and feel good about his future. We need to find out where he's at in the rotation plans moving forward.''
If the Cubs get no traction in efforts to trade Silva, and no unforeseen injuries open a spot for him on the opening roster, the Cubs are expected to ask Silva to continue to work at AAA Iowa and be ready as insurance for the big-league rotation.
Silva was not immediately available to comment.
The Cubs optioned well regarded Casey Coleman to AAA, where he joins the Iowa rotation, and also optioned reliever Jeff Stevens to AAA, setting the pitching staff.