Silva, Soriano take first spring steps

Silva, Soriano take first spring steps

MESA, Ariz. -- The numbers weren't good on Saturday for the Cubs' Carlos Silva: Six runs, seven hits, including two home runs by White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin, over two innings.

"I feel good," Silva said, "but the results weren't too good."

This was Silva's first game for the Cubs, and he did find a bright spot.

"It was a good day, because I feel good," Silva said. "But the only thing I'll be taking from this game is the play [Alfonso] Soriano made."

The play was a diving catch in the second inning when Soriano robbed Omar Vizquel of a possible run-scoring hit. Saturday marked Soriano's return to left field for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last September. He was a little surprised he made the catch.

"That's the most important thing ... I didn't have time to think when I dove to make that play," Soriano said. "After I caught it, I said, 'Man, my knee is good, because I had good reaction.' I was very surprised. They gave me a hard one right away. I'm very excited I made that play."

Both Silva and Soriano are trying to battle back from disappointing seasons. Silva, whom the Cubs acquired from Seattle for Milton Bradley, was 5-18 the past two seasons combined. He served up a two-run homer to Quentin in the first and a three-run shot in the second, as the Cubs lost, 15-3, in front of 12,712 at HoHoKam Park.

It was Lou Piniella's first look at Silva other than in a backfield bullpen session. There are some things the right-hander needs to work on.

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"I can see where he locates a lot of pitches in that thigh area, and that's a ball you can drop the bat head on fairly easily," Piniella said. "You don't have to work too hard to get that bat head down in that zone. I think maybe you have to elevate the ball a little bit, probably pitch a little more to the outside part of the plate and keep the ball in the big part of the field. It's the first time out, and hopefully it gets better from there."

Silva is being considered for one of two vacancies in the Cubs' rotation.

"I don't even worry about that or pay attention to that," Silva said. "If I worry about fighting for a spot, I won't get better ever. Right now I just have to work on what I need to work on and keep learning what I need to do to get better.

"I feel very good right now, very healthy right now," he said. "With the last two years I had, it's not how I feel. What's going to talk right now are the results. The team, the fans, everybody, that's what they're looking for."

If he isn't effective as a starter, Silva could be an option in the Cubs' bullpen. He did pitch in relief for two seasons with Philadelphia in 2002-03.

"I'm very competitive," Silva said. "Of course, I want to win a spot in the rotation. Right now, I'm just worried about getting my stuff. If I'm a starter or reliever, if I don't have my stuff, I'm going to lose the job either way. I have to keep working and keep learning. Right now, I'm trying a lot of different, new things."

Soriano is just trying to feel comfortable in the field. Piniella was impressed with the diving catch, but he has hinted he may lift Soriano late in the game to insert a better defender.

"He's the manager, he makes the choice," Soriano said. "If he wants to take me out in the seventh or eighth inning, that's his choice. I want to show him I'm 100 percent."

Soriano struggled mightily last season, hitting .241 with 20 homers and 55 RBIs. It was what you might call a character-building year.

"Last year, that made me a better human being, because I never had a bad year in the league," he said. "Now, it's 2010 and a new year and I hope I stay healthy and help the team to win."

He didn't mope, spending most of his offseason in the Dominican Republic rehabbing his knee. He wanted to be 100 percent by Opening Day. Soriano heard the boos at Wrigley Field.

"When the team was doing bad, you [find out] who your friends are, family," he said. "They showed me they were worried about me. When I had a bad moment last year, there were a lot of friends and family who always supported me."

Soriano's been moved from the leadoff spot. The Cubs want him to focus on hitting for power and driving in runs -- not stealing bases.

"I think he's ready to bounce back and have a stellar year for us," Piniella said. "He takes a lot of pride and he's going to do the best job he humanly can do and that's all you can expect."

How does Piniella know?

"I've had nice little conversations with him," Piniella said. "You look at his bubble gum card, and he has some pretty good numbers there."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.