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Cubs’ Matt Garza could start season on disabled list

Matt Garza

Matt Garza

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Updated: February 28, 2013 2:06PM

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs right-hander Matt Garza said Thursday he might open the season on the disabled list, but the Cubs are holding out hope the former 15-game winner can start on time.

Garza, who played catch Thursday for the first time since straining his left lat Feb. 17, said he’s being especially “cautious” as he returns from a kind of injury that often can linger or recur.

“This is the first step to being ready to start pitching,” he said of the throwing session. ``The schedule isn’t for Opening Day, it isn’t for opening week. The schedule is when my body’s ready to go, and I’m not going to rush this thing.

“Shoot, I spent six months already rehabbing and getting back from an [elbow] injury last year. Time is definitely on my side right now.’’

Manager Dale Sveum said it’s “way too early” to predict a DL start for Garza.

``We’ve got to evaluate [Thursday] before we evaluate or even think that far down the road,” he said. ``If everything goes good [Thursday], we’re planning on him being ready for the start of the season.”

Garza said his 15 minutes of throwing from 60 feet Thursday went well and he expects to throw again Saturday as he continues taking “baby steps.”

“It was nerve-wracking,” he said, “but after I got done it was like a sigh of relief. Because 11 days inside stinks.”

Sveum said some of the optimism is based on the “very slight” nature of Garza’s injury, which allayed initial fears that it could be a 4-to-6-week issue.

The Cubs open the season April 1 in Pittsburgh.

“It’s obviously a huge deal [to avoid the DL],” Garza said, “but pitching April 1 and pitching April 15 – yeah, it’s three, four games, but if I pitch April 1, I might re-injure it in June and be out.

“But if I give it those other two weeks and take my time, maybe not. Maybe I’m pitching April 15 through October, maybe November.”

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