MESA, Ariz. - Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva broke a two-day public silence today and offered his side of the dugout scuffle between him and teammate Aramis Ramirez Wednesday - accepting blame and saying that the pressure of having to compete for a job was a factor.
How much more fence-mending needs to be done with Ramirez is unclear since Silva says he hasn't had an extended talk with Ramirez since they had to be separated by teammates in that game against Milwaukee. Ramirez has said more than once since the incident that he considers it over.
``If we need to talk we will,'' Silva said. ``I apologized to him [Wednesday] and told him we were going to talk later.''
Silva said it's the first time he's ever had a problem, much less a confrontation, with a teammate and seemed remorseful.
``It was a very hard inning,'' he said of the three-error, two-homer, six-run inning in his first start. ``Not only for my team and for my coaches, but for me. It's like I'm trying to do something here. I gave up those two homers. ... I came to the dugout and tried to take it easy and relax and let it go, but the only thing I said is, `We need to start making plays here.' And [Ramirez] takes it personal.
``I know it was my fault because you [aren't supposed to] say anything, but he took it personal and that's what happened. We argued a little while and everything stayed there.''
While manager Mike Quade at one point said he didn't have a problem with the fact that somebody finally spoke up about the sloppy play that plagued the team much of the first week of spring games, Silva said he hadn't watched enough of the other games to even know that had been a problem.
It was only his game - that lone inning, which included a Ramirez dropped popup - that set him off.
``For me it was a little bit harder,'' Silva said, ``because you know who's going to be the third baseman. It's him. And who's going to be the fifth starter? We don't know yet. ... I'm trying to fight for a spot.''
Silva, whose in the final year of a four-year contract that pays $11.5 million this year, said he still doesn't believe he did anything to lose his starting job after earning it last year and having a huge first half. And while he accepts the team's decision to put him back into a competition, he admits it's frustrating.
``No excuses,'' he said. ``That first game I pitched [Wednesday] was absolutely brutal. But like I told my wife, `It's like I don't feel like that was me that was pitching that day.' I was thinking about, `I've got to do good, I've got to show them I can pitch' - too much going on in my mind. And all that, and then what happened in that game, my comment, and it's like - boom - a big explosion.
``That's why I say it was all my fault, because I don't like to have problems with any of my teammates. I think that's the worst feeling you can have, and the worst thing that can happen to you. Because you spend more time with these guys than with your own family.
``That's the last thing I want. I don't want any problems with my teammates. And I've never had any problems with my teammates. ... The only problem that I've had before is arguing with umpires.''
Silva said he needed to cool down for a couple days before talking with media, saying that because of his straightforward nature he didn't know what he might say if he didn't.
Meanwhile, the silence seemed to feed the impression that he was the ``bad guy'' in the incident that was so surprising if only because it erupted in just the fourth game of spring training.
``I don't feel like I'm the bad guy. I don't think I'm the bad guy,'' he said. ``My team, I'm pretty sure they know me already, they know the way I act. One think I always say is everybody deserves respect and everybody should get respect. It doesn't matter if you make an error or if you're on the mound. If you make an error, you have to feel you made an error.
``It's because, like I say, he's going to be the third baseman; I'm fighting for my spot, I'm dying there to have a good outing. I know I gave up those two homers and everything went bad that day. But it's like, you respect me and I respect you and everything's going to be fine, because everybody's got a job here and everybody has to fight for a job.''
Silva remains on his regular schedule to start again Monday, and he said he doesn't feel this incident will put any added pressure on him or affect his status with the team - either in terms of the rotation battle or his place on the roster.
``I hope not,'' he said.
Quade said he's glad Silva decided to finally give his side of the situation and that Silva took whatever time he needed to cool off first - even as Quade considered the issue resolved long before.
``I thought it was over the day after it happened,'' said the manager, who called a team meeting Thursday morning to address it (and the sloppy play), just ahead of a players meeting to emphasize clubhouse unity that has sometimes been lacking in recent seasons.
``Look, nothing just goes away in the blink of an eye because Q says it goes away. But everybody takes a day. ...If nothing else, by the end of that next morning, after we all had a discussion and left to go to work, that was enough for me.''