3/9 Cubs extra bases
Matt Garza’s game plan in Spring Training was to throw only fastballs in his first three outings so he can work on location. On Wednesday, the Cubs pitcher had to change his approach.
Garza walked the first two batters he faced, then gave up a RBI single to the Royals’ Billy Butler. Because he was having a tough time throwing fastballs for strikes, he switched to his breaking pitches. First baseman Carlos Pena, who was Garza’s teammate on the Rays, came over to the mound twice in the first to talk to the pitcher.
“[Pena] was just trying to slow it down,” Garza said. “He knew that I was fighting some things and he came over and said, ‘Slow it down, slow it down.’ That’s when I had to step back and take a deep breath and analyze what I can do and can’t do. It was a tough situation but a good learning process today. I was able to adjust on the fly. Next time, it’ll be sooner than later.”
And that’s what Spring Training is for.
* John Grabow has not pitched in a Cactus League game since the first one on Feb. 27 because of some tightness in his left shoulder. He has been able to do side work with pitching coach Mark Riggins, and will likely get back into a Cactus League game next week. Grabow is coming back from knee surgery last year that limited him to 28 games. “It’s nothing serious,” Mike Quade said. “We’re just being careful. You worry about his knee and every so often people coming back from that try to compensate and change their mechanics.”
* The Cubs are not set at second base. Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney and Augie Ojeda will get playing time there. Quade said, players usually make those decisions for you.
* Todd Wellemeyer is nursing a sore right hip, but downplayed the problem, saying he’s dealt with it for a couple years. “I’m old,” Wellemeyer quipped.
— Carrie Muskat