Season-opening DL stint for Cubs’ Matt Garza not out of question
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com February 18, 2013 10:44PM
Updated: March 20, 2013 6:44AM
MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs are bracing for the possibility that right-hander Matt Garza could open the season on the disabled list, based on the often-lingering nature of the injury he suffered during a throwing session Sunday.
Garza is expected to have an MRI exam in the next day or so, and the Cubs remain optimistic that the strain to his left latissimus dorsi isn’t serious.
But even though he has six weeks to get ready for his first regular-season start, the fact that he’s coming off an elbow injury that sidelined him the final two months of last season is just one more reason the Cubs say they’ll take a cautious, deliberate approach to his recovery.
‘‘We’re not going to rush this guy, that’s for sure,’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said. ‘‘The good news is his arm feels really strong. He was throwing the ball really well. It’s unfortunate, for sure, and it’s going to set him back a little bit. Our concern was obviously with the elbow injury that shut him down at the end of the year, and that still feels good. At this point it’s a little wait-and-see.’’
Former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster had a similar lat injury last season and missed three weeks on the disabled list.
‘‘They are lingering-type injuries,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘That’s the challenge with these injuries. That’s why we need to figure out exactly the severity.
‘‘You don’t want to bring a guy back too early and have him reinjure it. So you do end up being pretty patient with these. . . . Hopefully, this is the kind of injury that happens early and he has plenty of time to recover.’’
Starter Scott Baker, who’s on a slower pace this spring after missing last year with Tommy John surgery, already is expected to have his season debut backed up a week or more into the season.
If Garza isn’t ready to open on time, that would make the likely starting rotation — barring other injuries — Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva.
Eight days after designating him for assignment, the Cubs traded fan favorite Tony Campana to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday for two teenage pitching prospects.
‘‘It’s kind of sad to go, but I’m excited to get a new start with the Diamondbacks,’’ said Campana, who has been staying busy the last week hitting at a public batting cage.
‘‘I was paying to hit in a cage and paying for a gym for the last week,’’ he said, smiling. ‘‘I’m glad to actually be able to go hit and lift for free now.’’
Campana, 26, was one of the fastest players in the National League last year and led the Cubs with 30 stolen bases. His inability to consistently reach base made him expendable when the Cubs needed to create a roster spot for newly signed Scott Hairston.
Both pitchers in the deal are 17-year-old right-handers from Venezuela who played in the Dominican Summer League: Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo.
Leal is likely to make the transition to the Cubs’ rookie-A-level club in Mesa this season.