4/19 Extra bases
Matt Garza threw a two-inning simulated game Friday at Miller Park, and did well, although he struggled a bit with what manager Dale Sveum called “pinpoint-manship.”
Garza, who strained his left lat during a live batting practice session Feb. 17 and did not appear in a Spring Training game, was throwing in a game situation for the first time this year. He has not pitched in a regular season game since July, and missed the second half of last season with elbow problems.
“Everything was coming out of his hand OK,” Sveum said. “He was a little rusty.”
His command was also off a bit, resulting in the lack of pinpoint control.
“That’s just the first step to get out there,” Sveum said of Garza, who faced two hitters.
This was the first of at least four games for Garza. Next step will be 45 pitches over three innings. If all goes well, the right-hander should be ready to return to the Cubs rotation by mid May. Garza most likely will go to Double-A Tennessee for his next outing.
* With the addition of outfielder Julio Borbon, infielder Alex Gonzalez was designated for assignment. That doesn’t give the Cubs much depth in the infield. Cody Ransom is the backup at second, short and third, and there is no official backup first baseman. Sveum said the Cubs will rectify that when they add third baseman Ian Stewart, who was rehabbing at Triple-A Iowa. Stewart missed Spring Training with a strained left quad suffered in an intrasquad game Feb. 21, and weather has interfered with his rehab at Iowa. Stewart had played in two games heading into Friday.
“He needs a good solid week to play,” Sveum said of Stewart, limited to 55 games last season because of problems with his left wrist that ultimately required surgery. “He had no Spring Training.”
When Stewart does arrive, Luis Valbuena can fill the utility infielder role.
“If [Stewart] is here, he’s going to start,” Sveum said. “Valbuena will move all over the place. You still have to perform.”
* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the DL since April 13 with a strained right forearm, played catch in Chicago Friday. He threw from about 75 feet, and had no pain. It’s the first time he has thrown since going on the DL.
* Infielder Brent Lillibridge, designated for assignment on Tuesday to make room on the roster for Ransom, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. Lillibridge was 1-for-24 in nine games with the Cubs.
* Jorge Soler rejoined Class A Daytona on Thursday after serving a five-game suspension and went 1-for-3 with a single in his first at-bat. He was penalized for charging the opposing dugout with a bat in his hand on April 10. Soler had gone to Mesa, Ariz., to workout at the Cubs’ facility there during the suspension.
“He was really anxious to come back, he was excited to play,” Daytona manager Dave Keller told the Daytona Beach News Journal. “I just told him, ‘Hey, let’s go play baseball. Let’s go after it. Get into your routine and get prepared for the game.’”
– Carrie Muskat