Silva makes Cubs' fifth-starter decision tougher

Silva makes Cubs' fifth-starter decision tougher

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs need to determine who will be their fifth starter. Carlos Silva simply needed to show he could pitch.

On Wednesday, 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.

Cubs manager Mike Quade wants to have the 25-man roster set before Sunday. Silva's outing was solid. Now what?

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"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 not to 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."

Silva had given up 20 earned runs on 29 hits over 11 1/3 innings in his four previous spring outings for a less than impressive 15.88 ERA.

But the Cubs stuck with the right-hander, who began last season 8-0 and finished 10-6, battling injuries in the second half.

"They've been great to me," Silva said of the Cubs. "Those guys never gave up on me. To be honest, the last game I pitched, I was like, 'Man, this is going to be so difficult to make this rotation.' ... It's the numbers that talk in this game. Now, I felt like they gave me another chance. I didn't try to do too much. I'm so happy right now."

In that previous outing March 18, Silva gave up five earned runs on 11 hits over three innings against the Reds.

"I don't know what the decision is going to be," Silva said. "Hopefully, they make the right decision. For them to make the right decision, they don't need to pick me. You can have a good, bad Spring Training, but if you have a good season, they made the right choice."

What if the Cubs ask him to switch to relief rather than start?

"As long as I wear a big league jersey, I'll be fine," he said. "I'm looking forward to winning. Last year, I said, 'Man, I don't care where they put me, in the starting rotation or the bullpen. I just want to be a better pitcher.'

"As long as I wear a big league jersey, especially the Cubs jersey, it's a blessing," he said.

After his last outing, Silva joked that he needed a good-luck charm. On Wednesday, he took the mound wearing his socks high. Was that his lucky charm?

"I don't believe in that stuff," said Silva, who had asked for another pair of pants, but the clubhouse staff couldn't provide a longer pair.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.