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Prime trade bait Matt Garza has a handle on waiting game

Matt Garza

Matt Garza

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The facts: 3:10 p.m., CSN, 720-AM.

The starters: Edwin Jackson
(6-10, 5.11 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (5-3, 2.56).

Updated: August 22, 2013 7:07AM

DENVER — Even for Matt Garza, this time around the rumor mill is different — no matter how easily he seems to shrug it off as just another version of the same old drill.

Between the 24/7 Twitter-report cycle, the feeding frenzy chummed by a looming trade deadline and the lack of anything close to a ­dissenting opinion on the inevitability of a trade, the hard-throwing Cubs right-hander has never ­experienced this level of trade-watch heat.

And until Jake Peavy proves ­different, Garza’s the top-valued commodity on the trade market for the first time in his career.

“It’s not an everyday normal atmosphere,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who was traded twice during his playing career. “It’s not real fun coming to the park knowing that today could be the day.”

Many still expect Garza to be traded before Monday’s scheduled start in Arizona. The Cubs are keeping minor-league pitchers Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley in mind for an emergency start that day if a trade gets done — which came within a sketchy medical ­report of happening Friday with the Texas Rangers.

By Saturday, Garza continued his between-starts workout programs as if nothing unusual was going on while the Cubs continued to talk to multiple teams, including — according to one source — the defending World Series-champion San Francisco Giants.

Meanwhile, Garza’s wife and four young kids remain back home in Chicago wondering where their home for the rest of the summer might be as he makes “Finding Nemo” references in media interviews — “Just keep swimming, guys.”

“He’s been unbelievable,” said Jeff Samardzija, one of several teammates more impressed with Garza’s ability to handle the swirling, on-the-clock uncertainty in the clubhouse than his 5-0, 1.24 ERA focus on the field in his last six starts.

“[He’s] dealing with a family, too. So he knows if something happens he’s got to uproot his family and move out.”

To Texas or San Francisco one minute. Toronto or Boston the next. Cleveland, Washington or any given “mystery-team” locale the next. And, by the way, could Atlanta now be in the market for a pitcher after Paul Maholm left Saturday’s start with an injury?

“I’ve got a strong wife,” Garza said of his coping mechanism. “She helps me all the time, handles the kids, makes sure everything’s in order and lets me deal with it. It’s what kind of gets me through it.”

Garza spent an extra day at home when the team traveled to Denver on Thursday, leaving Chicago early Friday morning, just as Twitter was heating up over a report that a Garza deal with Texas was “close.”

Three of Garza’s kids are under 10. The other is barely 10. And, yes, they ask questions, he said.

“We just consider it an adventure,” said Garza, who was traded twice before — but both times during the offseason, without the frenzy of a trade deadline or ­responsibility of the job at hand ­being involved.

“We’ve been on three adventures [playing for three teams],” he said. “If we have to go on another one, so be it.”

He knows he’ll be traded, barring an injury that prevented a trade last July. The Cubs have told him that much. But where? When?

“I’m just getting ready for ­Monday,” he said, and headed to ­another workout.

“It’s been impressive the way he’s handled it,” said pitcher Carlos Villanueva (2-6), who took the loss Saturday in a 9-3 victory by the Colorado Rockies against the Cubs. “I went through a little bit of it last year when I was a free agent for the first time, and the questions for me started in August. By the end of the year, I was more mentally drained than physically.

“But he’s a very tough man mentally and physically. … Hopefully, what’s going to happen happens soon, and he can just finish out his season strong.”

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