3/3 Garza shut down; Samardzija OD starter
Cubs pitcher Matt Garza, who has been sidelined since Feb. 17 with a strained left lat, is still experiencing some lingering mild tightness and has been shut down for one week, and most likely will miss the first month of the regular season. The Cubs athletic trainers are not calling this a setback but say it’s part of the evaluation process.
Not having Garza or Scott Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, means Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva are now in the Cubs rotation. Speaking of the rotation, Dale Sveum officially named Jeff Samardzija as the Opening Day starter. More on that later.
Garza had spent the offseason rehabbing from elbow problems which forced him to miss the last 2 1/2 months of the season. His elbow has been fine. He felt soreness in his lat halfway through a live BP session.
“He’s pretty down about it,” Sveum said of the latest news. “He was obviously looking forward to it going well and it didn’t go so well. He’s pretty down right now about it.”
Garza played catch on Saturday and they tried to pick up the intensity. That’s when he felt some discomfort. Lat injuries can linger but Sveum said this isn’t as serious as some which hurt when you sneeze or laugh.
“It’s just to the point where he’s just not ready to throw a baseball yet,” Sveum said. “It’s not torn or real bad. It’s just not quite ready to throw. It’s not a setback, it didn’t get worse, it’s just not ready — it’s like an evaluation process. Obviously, the evaluation was that he’s not ready to step up any extra intensity throwing.”
Having Wood and Villanueva as options certainly helps. The Cubs didn’t have that kind of depth last year.
“That’s the nice thing about the depth we bring in, to be able to fill those two spots,” Sveum said. “We pretty much knew Baker would be the middle of April. We weren’t quite sure how the elbow would respond from Garza and that was going really well. Now we have this minor setback that obviously could turn into missing two weeks to a possible month.”
– Carrie Muskat