Struggling veterans vie for jobs

- By Bob Nightengal­e USA TODAY

MESA, Ariz. — Carlos Silva knows the hefty paychecks will keep coming this season, whether he is pitching for the Chicago Cubs or sitting on his living room couch.

He’s going to be paid $11.5 million this year, and he thinks he’s good enough to be the Cubs’ fifth starter. He hopes he proved it Wednesday with a strong showing against the Oakland Athletics. If the Cubs disagree and Silva is released, he’ll become the third high-paid veteran to be dumped in the last week.

“I needed this game; it’s personal,” said Silva, who yielded three hits and one run in six innings, lowering his spring ERA to 10.90. “I don’t know what their decision will be. It’s hard. This is a business.”

Andrew Cashner, the Cubs’ 2008 first-round draft pick, is Silva’s main competitio­n for the fifth spot. “The decision remains tough,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said.

The New York Mets made their difficult decisions when they swallowed $18 million worth of contracts by unconditio­nally releasing pitcher Oliver Perez and second baseman Luis Castillo. Castillo signed with the Philadelph­ia Phillies. Perez has signed with the Washington Nationals, according to several news media outlets, including The Washington Post. Even if they make those major league rosters, the Mets will be responsibl­e for all but $829,000.

The San Francisco Giants could trade or even release veteran outfielder Aaron Rowand. Rowand is owed $12 million for each of the next two seasons but has no start- ing job. He hit .230 last season and played sparingly down the stretch after losing his center-field job to Andres Torres. The Giants have used Rowand, battling with Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholt­z for roster spots, in left field this spring. He hasn’t appeared in left during the regular season since 2003.

“All that stuff is completely out of my control,” Rowand said. “There’s always rumors, always talking. Anybody who’s played this game for a while knows it has nothing to do with what you’re trying to accomplish on a day-by-day basis.”

Club executives say it’s tough to decide what to do with a struggling high-paid player.

“When you have a guy like that, not only is it a drain on your finances, but you’re also not fielding your best 25-man roster,” Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan said.

 ?? By Gene J. Puskar, AP ?? Quest: Carlos Silva, shown in 2010, hopes to be the Cubs’ fifth starter.
By Gene J. Puskar, AP Quest: Carlos Silva, shown in 2010, hopes to be the Cubs’ fifth starter.

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