Twins Insider: Being likable not enough of a reason to keep Silva

The manager and pitching coach are rooting for the veteran, but they shouldn't hand him a job unless he pitches better.

Minnesota Twins pitcher Carlos Silva is well-liked, but will that be enough to keep him on the team?

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Twins righthander Carlos Silva dressed up as club mascot T.C. Bear last week and drew laughs and applause as he pulled off skit after skit with teammates before a game. It's one of many things Silva has done in recent years to keep a generally loose team loose.

"We like Carlos," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We like him a lot."

Liking someone, however, is not enough of a reason to give him a spot in a rotation when he isn't pitching well.

Silva has a 7.62 ERA in four spring outings. He's not throwing his sinking fastball well. His other pitches need work. And after losing his spot in the rotation briefly last season (and finishing 11-15 with a 5.94 ERA), Silva could be in line for similar treatment if he doesn't pull things together. And this time, a removal could last much longer than three weeks, which was how long he was out of the rotation last year.

On Sunday, Gardenhire strongly hinted that Silva is not on firm ground.

"We want him to be in our rotation desperately," Gardenhire said. "We think we need him. Nothing is a lock. He knows that. He has to go out and pitch."

It seems unlikely any pitcher has attracted the attention Silva has in workouts. On March 3, when pitching coach Rick Anderson was on a road trip, minor league pitching coordinator Rick Knapp, Class AAA Rochester pitching coach Stu Cliburn and Johan Santana offered encouragement while Silva threw in the bullpen. Santana has watched several of Silva's sessions during camp.

Instead of being on the bench Sunday for a game against Pittsburgh, Gardenhire and Anderson were on a back field watching Silva face minor leaguers while trying to fine-tune his pitches.

"His ball was moving and sinking," Gardenhire said. "He changed his arm angle a little bit and really had the ball diving. Had a great changeup. His slider still is not exactly what he wants to see, but I thought his ball was sinking really good. He got a ton of ground balls."

Silva still gave up three runs in four innings against Class AA New Britain, including an opposite-field homer.

"Seems like every mistake he makes -- even [Sunday when] he got one up -- they hit it," Gardenhire said. "It's a matter of him keeping that arm slot and making the ball move."

When asked what Silva's second-best pitch is, Gardenhire said the changeup -- not the slider, not the slider-curve hybrid Silva had when he came to the Twins as part of the Eric Milton trade in 2003. Instead, it is the changeup -- a pitch he started throwing in September of last season.

Does that make Silva a two-pitch pitcher, a one-pitch pitcher (considering he's still trying to harness his sinker) or a 1½-pitch pitcher?

It's obvious the Twins, who picked up Silva's $4.35 million option during the offseason, are pulling for him. And indications are that Silva will open the season in the rotation along with Santana, Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson and Boof Bonser.

But Silva has little room for error because several prospects have auditioned impressively this spring. If this was a movie, it could be called "Rotation Crashers."

Bonser, a righthander, wasn't considered a lock coming into camp but has made a statement with his 2.25 ERA. He's likely the fifth starter.

Lefthander Glen Perkins has a new sinker and a 2.00 ERA. If he is not in the rotation now, he is likely first in line if something happens.

Don't misread that as an indictment of righthander Matt Garza (1.50 ERA in camp). The Twins rave about his talent, though some feel he needs polish. But he's close.

Righthander Kevin Slowey (3.38 ERA in camp) has joined the "nearly ready" wave because of his excellent control and willingness to mix four pitches.

Righthander Scott Baker (9.64 ERA in five outings) is out of the picture and needs a big year in the minors.

Rotation spots could change over the final 12 games of spring training, based on who sails and who fails as the games turn more serious. But it's clear that Silva not only has to finish camp strong, he also has to start the season strong or he could get run over by the future -- well-liked or not.

 

La Velle E. Neal III lneal@startribune.com

  • TWINS SPRING TRAINING

    Up next: 6:05 tonight vs. Boston

    Fort Myers, Fla. • FSN • 1500-AM

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
7:05 PM ET123456789RHE
MinnesotaT. May (0-3)000
BaltimoreM. Gonzalez (6-7)000
@theBallpark
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota - T. May 6:05 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
NY Yankees - C. Capuano 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Buehrle
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 6:10 PM
NY Mets - J. deGrom
Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Miami - T. Koehler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close