Carlos Silva, Mike Fontenot and Tyler Colvin are among the topics in this week's Cubs Inbox. E-mail your questions to email@example.com, and please include your full name and hometown.I watched Carlos Silva on March 6 vs. White Sox, and it was not pretty. What I did see was that he was around the plate and I hear he has a mean sinker that would work in any air other than the desert of Arizona (another good reason to move to Florida so they can evaluate the breaking balls). Maybe he would thrive in a new role as a right-handed setup man.
-- Bill H., The Villages, Fla.
That game against the White Sox was Silva's first start. Did you see his second outing on March 11? In that game, he gave up four hits and walked one over three scoreless innings. What was encouraging after the second start were the comments Silva made. He said he felt excited to pitch again for the first time in a couple years, saying the changes were helpful. Let's give him and pitching coach Larry Rothschild some time. And, yes, he does have a good sinker -- at least he did when he was with the Twins. That's what they're working on.
Why is Mike Fontenot spending so much time playing shortstop? It seems like we are already overloaded at short and from the sounds of the Starlin Castro chatter, Ryan Theriot may be out of a position in a year or two. Why doesn't Theriot try switching to second so he can stay in the lineup?
-- Eric S., Coral Gables, Fla.
The Cubs are trying to determine their bench. If Fontenot can play shortstop, then the Cubs would be more likely to carry a player like Kevin Millar or Chad Tracy as opposed to someone like Andres Blanco, who is a bigger help on defense than offense. And don't look for Castro to be on the roster on Opening Day. He'll open the season in the Minor Leagues.
As Lou Piniella said the other day, why not? The Cubs want to carry an extra outfielder besides Xavier Nady, and they have four candidates in Colvin, Sam Fuld, Jim Adduci and Brad Snyder. Colvin, a welcome left-handed bat, has been impressive this spring and it looks as if the extra 25 pounds of muscle he added and the strength workouts he did paid off. All four of those outfielders can play all three positions, which helps, too.
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Looking at the bullpen, I see some major issues, specifically the lack of experience and depth. Are the Cubs going to try to fill in some holes in their bullpen through either free agency or a trade or just stand pat?
-- Harry K., Winnetka, Ill.
They are young. General manager Jim Hendry has been looking for an experienced right-handed pitcher since before the Winter Meetings. Right now, the only relievers set are Carlos Marmol, John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad, and Marmol is the only holdover from Opening Day 2009. Remember, two of the pitchers currently in the running for the rotation who don't make it will likely be moved to the bullpen. Piniella has been pleased with some of the youngsters like Justin Berg and John Gaub, and there's nothing wrong with youth as long as they get the job done.
I keep hearing that Millar might go to the Minors to get more at-bats and that the best thing to do is have him lead off every inning. How do the rules work so the same player can lead off every inning?
-- Isaac M., Kansas City
That doesn't mean Millar would do that with Triple-A Iowa. This spring, he could go down to the Cubs' complex at Fitch Park and play in one of the Minor League games there. The rules are a little lax. A lot of teams use those games to let guys who are rehabbing or need some extra at-bats get their work in. The Cubs may do that with Nady as well.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.