"It was exciting to be there, but it was like, I pitched one day and then waited for like six more days to pitch again," Silva said. "That was the only work I did and in Spring Training, it's all about preparation -- batting practice, your bullpens. It's like a routine. I've been doing that every year, and it's not that I have a great season every time, but nothing like the problems last year."With the loss of starters Brad Radke and Francisco Liriano, there is the perception that the Twins' rotation is pretty much an open race after ace Johan Santana. Silva, 27, has put pressure on himself to earn that No. 2 spot, and it's clear the Twins are expecting a lot out of him, too. "I know a lot of people in Minnesota gave up on him," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson added. "We didn't here, but I heard plenty of people this winter saying that. We saw at times that he had it and now it's just about being consistent. The last thing he said when he left after the playoffs was, 'You watch, I'm going to show everyone next year.' And I think he can." The offseason has brought many changes for Silva. He got engaged right after the season ended. And when the Twins made the decision to pick up his $4.35 million option, Silva immediately got a huge confidence boost and began working hard to fix his troubles from last year. That included losing some weight working out, and in the process discovering that maybe he had hindered his own progress. "I've been working hard on my mechanics, but it's more mental," Silva said. "If you stay positive and say, 'Yes, I can do this and I can do that,' then you're going to do it." Silva feels he's already on the right path to correcting some of the troubles. While working with a trainer this offseason, Silva said the trainer noticed he was favoring his left knee. Silva had undergone surgery to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee following the '05 season and while it may have been subconscious, Silva feels like he was overly cautious with that knee all of last year. "I was so scared to push on it and be aggressive," Silva said. "And hopefully now I can do that and maybe it will be the answer to getting my sinker back." For Silva, finding his sinker is important, but regaining the confidence to be the No. 2 pitcher behind Santana seems like the biggest task at hand. "Carlos is one of the guys we're counting on," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need him to step up. And he expects it along with us."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.