- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs right-hander Carlos Silva has been pitching for a rotation spot with the Northsiders, but his spring outings also appear to be an audition for other teams in need of starting pitching.
During Saturday's 7-6 split-squad loss to the Cincinnati Reds, numerous scouts, including three from the Washington Nationals, saw Silva's best performance of the spring. The 31-year-old veteran threw five decent innings, giving up four runs on five hits.
In addition to the Nationals, the New York Yankees are following all of Silva's outings, according to major league sources. Both teams need to fortify their rotations. The Yankees could easily absorb most of Silva's $12 million salary for 2011 if they like what they see from the veteran pitcher the rest of the spring.
Silva had been hit hard in his first two spring starts, including giving up eight runs against the Los Angeles Angels on March 7. He also was involved in a dugout confrontation with teammate Aramis Ramirez after struggling against the Brewers on March 2.
Silva allowed leadoff home runs in the third and fifth innings on Saturday, but felt very good about his performance overall.
"No doubt I can pitch," he said. "It was hard the first two outings, but you can learn from that. For me, I might take things harder than anyone else here. Those two games were bad. I didn't find anything positive about them at all."
Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza are locks to make the rotation, while Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer, left-hander James Russell and rookie Casey Coleman are also in the running for the fourth and fifth spots.
Looper and Wellemeyer are in camp on minor-league, non-guaranteed contracts.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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