Dempter's advice aids Silva

With the Cubs’ fifth starters’ role still up in the air, veteran right-hander Carlos Silva gave the team his best 80 percent on Wednesday.

Silva pitched six strong innings, allowing three hits and one run while striking out three. The 80-percent effort? That was Silva’s game plan.

“I’ve been working hard with my confidence,” Silva said. “I needed to trust myself?”

Opening Day starter Ryan Dempster had this piece of advice for Silva before he took the mound against Oakland.

“I don’t want you to give me 100 percent,” Silva recalled Dempster telling him before the game. “I want you to pitch 80 percent. If they get a base hit off you, just relax and give 80 percent. Don’t try to do too much and overthrow pitches.”

Silva does have a natural sink to his fastball. Scouts say that if he doesn’t overthrow the pitch, he’s very effective with his two-seam fastball.

Before this outing, Silva had been awful most of the spring. Going into Wednesday’s action he posted a 15.99 ERA that included 29 hits and 20 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings pitched.

“I needed this game,” Silva said. “Not just to win a spot in the rotation, it’s personal. You need good games too. I needed this game to start building my confidence.”

Among the dozen scouts in the stands were evaluators from Washington, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Minnesota. All those teams are looking for pitching help.

If the Cubs decide that either Andrew Cashner or Braden Looper will be their fifth starter, the team would gladly trade Silva in order to save some of the$11.5 million he’s owed this season.

Silva, for his part, just wants to contribute to a major league team.

“I don’t care where they put in the starting rotation or the bullpen,” Silva said. “I just want to do my job and be a better pitcher.”

The Cubs are Silva’s third team. He knows that being traded is part of the profession.

“This is like a business,” Silva said. “If I’m pitching good and I’m traded, I’ll be OK. I just didn’t want to go out the door the way I was pitching.”

Manager Mike Quade was noncommittal after the game when asked about naming a fifth starter.

“This means the decisions remain tough,” Quade said. “And we’re thrilled to death guys continue to make them tough.”

The six innings from Silva were the best outing from any of the candidates for the vacant rotation spot so far this spring.

Quade, however, wants to see more before he can make a choice.

“It means Silva pitched very well today,” Quade said.

Looper will pitch the second half of the Cubs-White Sox game Thursday. Cashner will go Saturday. On a five-man rotation, Silva’s next spring start would be March 28 against Cleveland. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to start that game.