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Tough start has vale for Matt Garza

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



MESA, Ariz. — It would seem a shaky start in early March wouldn’t carry much weight for a pitcher who has a few years under his belt.

Try telling that to Cubs starter Matt Garza, who was less than stellar in his 22/3 innings Wednesday. He allowed six runs and four hits while striking out four and walking four. Garza almost sounded as if he wanted to embrace the outing.

‘‘You can’t throw them out; these are the best outings to learn from,’’ he said. ‘‘I could have gone four innings of shutout, no hits, but what am I going to learn from that? I learned that I got in my own way today. I wanted to be stubborn when I could have pitched. Give in and go get them.’’

Garza had wanted to force-feed fastballs, but problems locating — and hot hitting by the Royals — made him change his plans.

‘‘It’s not what I wanted, but this is a game of adjustments,’’ Garza said. ‘‘I had to end up throwing my breaking balls, and they looked good.’’

Through three Cactus League starts in his new uniform, Garza, who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason, has allowed 11 earned runs and has a robust 14.85 ERA. He called it ‘‘a learning process,’’ shooting down the idea that he isn’t comfortable yet in Cubs attire.

‘‘It’s baseball,’’ Garza said. ‘‘I’m comfortable inside the diamond no matter what you’re wearing. I like this team, I like being here, I can’t wait to get to Chicago. Right now, I’m just trying to get ready for it.

‘‘When that bell dings in April I’ll be ready to go — you better believe that.’’

Second chances

Manager Mike Quade would love to see Blake DeWitt or Jeff Baker decisively claim the second-base job, rather than it being second base-by-committee, but that hasn’t happened.

‘‘I think they both deserve a serious look, and I think they’ll both get an opportunity,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Someone would have to take the job and establish themselves in a very serious manner to earn that. I mean this: Players usually make those decisions for you, and if someone establishes themselves as a solid defensive player and a quality offensive player against left, against right, then they may force the issue.’’

Warning shot

At the start of camp, Quade said he was looking forward to seeing all of the young arms compete. He’s still waiting.

‘‘It’s time for people to make an impression,’’ he said. ‘‘Whether they make this club or not, they can still set a tone and show you something. We need some of the kids to pitch better than they have and help keep us in ballgames.’’



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