4/1 Silva gets "A-plus" this spring

Carlos Silva has been a good student this spring.

“I think I learned a lot of stuff,” the 30-year-old right-hander said. “I feel I learned a lot of stuff, not only mechanical but also mentally.”

There’s a long list of teachers, too.

“You can learn from a lot of people,” Silva said. “You have [Ryan] Dempster, you can learn from Ted Lilly. You have Marlon [Byrd]. I’ve known him for a long time. We were talking about the way I used to pitch before. [Byrd] said, ‘I want to see you do stuff like what I used to see.'”

The Cubs weren’t sure what to expect when they traded Milton Bradley for Silva last December. Will he be the pitcher who won 14 games with the Twins or the one who struggled the last two seasons?

“I don’t want to say I’m surprised,” Silva said. “This is what I’ve been working for. I’ve been taking this spring very seriously. I even asked [Esmailin] Caridad how he threw his slider. That’s what I’m looking for — I want to learn from everybody. I play catch with Carlos [Zambrano] every day and I ask him a million questions. I’m not surprised. I’ve been working very hard.”

He wrapped up his spring on Thursday, throwing five scoreless innings against the Rockies. In his six starts, Silva gave up nine earned runs on 27 hits and two walks over 21 1/3 innings. And six of those runs came in his first start March 6 against the White Sox.

“We recognize early in camp, even when we were at Fitch Park [before games started], that he was throwing the ball nice and free and easy,” Lou Piniella said. “Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach] and I talked about making a couple adjustments and you can’t pitch any better than he’s pitched here in spring Training.”

— Carrie Muskat

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