Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The comparisons to Carlos Zambrano’s anger-management issues hit the Chicago airwaves in January almost as soon as the news broke that the Cubs had acquired the fiery Matt Garza.
But not so fast on those unfair comparisons, says Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena, Garza’s teammate with the Tampa Bay Rays the last three seasons.
‘‘I don’t know what issues Carlos has. I know he is very intense as well,’’ Pena said. ‘‘But the intensity we’re talking about here with Matt is controlling himself as far as wanting to be so, so, so good. To be able to step back and allow himself some room for error and allow himself to not be so hard on himself.
‘‘It is his desire to just absolutely beat down the other team, and he goes out there with that desire every single day. Fans are going to love him because of that. And obviously he wants the best results, and he knows that for him to achieve that, he’s going to have to become the master of himself first.’’
One thing Pena knows from his time around Garza, who won 15 games and pitched a no-hitter last year: ‘‘He’s in an awesome place. And I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.’’
Garza makes his debut with the Cubs today.
Manager Mike Quade will try to maintain regular work for the back end of the bullpen to help the relievers stay sharp.
‘‘I don’t like to see guys go three days without work,’’ Quade said. ‘‘[Closer Carlos] Marmol needs to work. He worked back-to-back only once in spring training.’’
Quade planned even before Saturday to use lefty Sean Marshall because Marshall hadn’t pitched in four days.
Marshall worked the eighth and got the victory after Kerry Wood also debuted in the seventh for the injured Carlos Zambrano. Marmol struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
The sun also rises
Pena wouldn’t own up to penning the inspirational saying written on the locker-room whiteboard, but the message had his endorsement.
‘‘I like it,’’ Pena said of the saying to focus on the rising sun, not the setting sun, and not on the past or future, but the present.
‘‘Be able to turn the page,’’ Pena said. ‘‘I’m talking about detaching from the past and future and focus on the now. If you try to carry baggage from the past or look at things too far in the future, you’re absent for the moment.’’
Pena said part of his ‘‘now’’ is enjoying Wrigley Field.
‘‘This place is unbelievable,’’ he said. ‘‘Even driving to Wrigley Field, I look to my right and see the lake, and I can only imagine when it gets warm and the trees blossom. It’s a great environment and atmosphere to play at Wrigley. I feel like a kid. This is definitely a special place.’’
Pena even likes the small clubhouse: ‘‘It’s way better than people make it out to be. It brings us together. It’s cozy.’’