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Cubs’ Matt Garza: Arizona ‘sucks,’ Wrigley will be better

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



MESA, Ariz. — Right-hander Matt Garza doesn’t figure to be doing any ads for the Arizona Office of Tourism any time soon. But as long as he’s right about the improvements he expects in Chicago this weekend, that’s all the Cubs care about.

Garza’s first Arizona spring finished with one of his ugliest pitching lines Tuesday, leaving him with a 1-4 record and a Carlos Silva-like 10.38 ERA in 212/3 spring innings. He has struggled gripping the ball.

‘‘There’s a lot of positives to take out of [Arizona], and I’ve just got to keep going,’’ Garza said. ‘‘I’m healthy. It’s my first year in Arizona. And it sucks.

‘‘I don’t give a damn. I don’t care about the travel. It sucks here. It’s so dry, but whatever. Now it’s time to go to Chicago, where there’s a little more moisture in the air.’’

The Cubs might not want to remind Garza, a career American Leaguer, about those days when the wind blows out at Wrigley Field.

But Garza said the arid desert climate wasn’t an excuse for his spring results.

‘‘It’s something I had to adjust to on the fly, and I didn’t really do well,’’ he said.

He has looked strong and healthy, and despite his problems Tuesday, he threw 91 pitches. He says he’s ready for his Cubs (and Wrigley) debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

‘‘I just need to shake it off and get ready for the next one. The next ones count,’’ said Garza, who won 15 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last year. ‘‘It’s go time. So it’s time to go.’’

Rammed

Sean Marshall isn’t going to make this mistake again. His Virginia Commonwealth Rams are in the Final Four but can’t be found penciled into his NCAA tournament bracket anywhere.

‘‘I probably should have picked them,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘Nobody else would have. . . . I probably would have won it.’’

Marshall played baseball at VCU for three seasons before the Cubs drafted him in 2003.

‘‘I’ve been texting the athletic director, telling him to keep going,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘I told him the Cubs are rooting for him.’’

Presumably, Marshall hasn’t mentioned the faithless bracket.

‘‘They get in next year, I’m going to pick them all the way,’’ he said.

Notes

Jeff Baker (hamstring) returned to the lineup Tuesday and looked fine. Marlon Byrd sat out because of back stiffness.

‘‘We’re not taking any chances with anything at this point,’’ said manager Mike Quade, who didn’t anticipate a serious issue with the back.

◆ After Carlos Zambrano pitched around defensive mistakes without issue in his final inning Monday, Quade made a point to chat with the enigmatic pitcher and ‘‘applaud’’ his mind-set.

‘‘[Usually] the only time we talk about situations like that are when they’re not handled well,’’ Quade said.



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