Cubs’ Matt Garza cleared to pitch, reunited with old battery mate Dioner Navarro
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org November 15, 2012 5:17PM
Chicago Cubs Vs Detroit Tigers. Cubs starting pitcher No. 22 Matt Garza reacts to a four run 6Th-Inning. Wednesday June 13, 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: November 15, 2012 5:18PM
Thursday was Matt Garza Day for the Cubs.
Early in the day, the team medically cleared the highest-paid pitcher on the staff to start a ``normal’’ offseason throwing program following a scheduled scan on the inflamed elbow that sidelined him since July.
Later, team announced the signing of backup catcher Dioner Navarro to a one-year contract ($1.75 million) – Garza’s catcher in Tampa Bay for three seasons that included a World Series and a 15-win season.
It also included a publicized dustup between the pair in 2008 that started with an argument on the mound and included another confrontation in the dugout caught on camera.
It was a moment in the young pitcher’s career that Garza said ``embarrassed’’ him, angered his manager, Joe Maddon, and led to temper-management counseling that coincided with a career turnaround.
Former Rays teammates said Garza and Navarro later became inseparable.
More recently, Navarro, 28, spent parts of the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds.
The switch-hitter is a lifetime .245 hitter with 41 home runs. He’s expected to back up sophomore catcher Welington Castillo.
Garza, who’s arbitration eligible and under club control through next season, was shut down from throwing since being diagnosed with a ``stress reaction’’ in the elbow with two months left in the season.
Upon being cleared to start getting ready for spring training, he tweeted Thursday: ``I’m cleared for takeoff!! Strap it on tight cause we are going on one helluva ride. …’’
He finished the tweet with three hash-tagged words: ``getitdone,’’ ``freedom,’’ ``2013.’’