Carlos Silva believes he has already won a spot in the Cubs rotation

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It may be the first day of spring training, but Carlos Silva is oozing confidence about his place in the Cubs plans:

“For me, there’s only one spot open. I am one of the starters, you know what I mean? Whatever they think, they think that, not me.”

He did add that “if I have to win my spot, I’ll do it. I have no problem with that,” so it’s not like he’s suffering from some overactive sense of entitlement.  And I suppose you’d have to at least pencil Silva in as the fifth starter right now.  But really, Silva pitched over his head last year. Perhaps he just figured out what he’d been doing wrong for so long, but it’s also possible that he’ll be back to 2008-2009 levels — or even career averages — in 2011.

There are a number of fringe arms in Cubs camp who could conceivably profile as a fifth starter.  Silva may simply be talking himself up, but really, he’s the Cubs pitcher who is least assured of a slot in the rotation right now, isn’t he?

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.