Cubs’ Matt Garza to start season on disabled list
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 3, 2013 6:31PM
Chicago Cubs' Matt Garza during a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Updated: March 10, 2013 8:17PM
MESA, Ariz. — Four weeks from the start of the regular season, the Cubs were able to set their starting rotation Sunday — for all the wrong reasons.
Right-hander Matt Garza suffered a ‘‘minor setback’’ with his strained left lat during a throwing session Saturday, prompting him to be shut down for about a week and assuring he’ll open the season on the disabled list. Manager Dale Sveum said Garza might miss the first month of the season.
‘‘Could be, but that’s not what I’m planning,’’ said Garza, who’s thinking closer to two weeks. ‘‘I don’t sit back and let things happen. I’m going to keep pushing.’’
It was raising the intensity during his second throwing session since he suffered the injury Feb. 17 that caused the issue Saturday.
‘‘It didn’t hurt,’’ Garza said. ‘‘It’s just not gone, and with stuff like this, it has to be gone. If it’s not gone, then we have to get off the pedal, and I’d rather keep pushing it down. But I can’t be selfish. It’s still real early. If I can help my team out for 5½ months, that’s better than nothing.’’
With right-hander Scott Baker already scheduled to miss at least the first two weeks of the season as he progresses cautiously from Tommy John surgery, Garza’s injury puts left-hander Travis Wood and right-hander Carlos Villanueva into the season-opening rotation, Sveum said. They will join right-handers Jeff Samardzija, whom Sveum said will start the opener, Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman.
‘‘That’s the nice thing about the depth that we bring in, to be able to fill those two spots,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘We weren’t quite sure about how the elbow was going to respond with Garza, and obviously that was going really well. But now we have this minor setback.’’
Garza missed the last nine weeks of the 2012 season because of a stress reaction in his pitching elbow. This will be his third trip to the DL in as many seasons with the Cubs.
Sources said Garza’s injury hasn’t stoked the Cubs’ interest in free-agent right-hander Kyle Lohse. Signing Lohse would mean losing a top-50 overall draft pick as compensation.
Several high-end prospects from minor-league camp, including 2012 first-round draft pick Albert Almora and slugger Dan Vogelbach, were invited to join big-league camp for a day as extra players for split-squad games.
‘‘I’m excited,’’ Almora said. ‘‘I’ve been outside with David DeJesus in the outfield and hanging around again with [fellow prospect Jorge] Soler. It’s been fun.’’
Third baseman Ian Stewart (strained quadriceps) said he thinks he’ll have time to return to the field this month and make the team. The Cubs will be on the hook for Stewart’s entire $2 million contract if he opens the season on the roster, including the DL, but only $500,000 if he’s released before the opener.
Former Cubs Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe was back at work as a spring instructor after being released Saturday from a local hospital, where he had emergency hernia surgery. He’s scheduled to go back to the doctor Wednesday to have stitches removed.