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Matt Garza plays catch for first time since injury

Chicago Cubs' Matt Garzfields line drive during spring training baseball workout Tuesday Feb. 12 2013 MesAriz.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Chicago Cubs' Matt Garza fields a line drive during a spring training baseball workout Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:49PM

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 for the first time since straining his left lat Feb. 17, said he’s being especially “cautious” as he returns from an injury that can linger or recur.

“[The throwing session] is the first step to being ready to start pitching,” he said. “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 stint 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.”

So far, so good. Garza survived the first session without a setback.

Sveum said some of the optimism is based on the “very slight” nature of Garza’s injury, allaying initial fears it could keep him out four to six weeks.

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, it’s three, four games, but if I pitch April 1, I might reinjure 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.”

Garza said his throwing session from 60 feet went well, and he expects to throw again Saturday.

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

NOTES: Dale Sveum said Starlin Castro is expected to miss two or three days before returning to action after suffering “tightness” in his left hamstring Wednesday. The injury is minor enough that no medical tests were scheduled.

◆ Right-hander Scott Baker, who’s building up after missing last season following Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to throw another live batting session Friday and expects to move on to a simulated game early next week.

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