Deftly revealed right around the same time the Cubs were announcing the Tony Campana trade, today Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Matt Garza would be getting an MRI at some point in the next two days.
Garza, who hadn’t faced live hitters since suffering a stress reaction in his right elbow last July, had to leave his opening live batting practice session yesterday after feeling some pain in his left side. At first he thought he had some kind of cramp, but the Cubs have – for now – diagnosed him with a “mild” left lat strain. (The “lat” muscle is essentially on your middle back, to one side or the other, closely approaching, and extending into, the side area below your armpit.)
Hoyer tried to assuage any fear by telling the media things like, “The good news is his arm felt really strong and he was throwing really well,” and “It was a bummer but I’m glad his arm feels good and Matt’s in real good spirits because of that. It’s the kind of injury that you’re thankful happened in the first live BP. When these injuries happen in the last start of Spring Training it really hurts you in the season.” But, because we are Cubs fans, we are probably not able to hear much more than, “It’s unfortunate for sure and it’s going to set him back a little bit,” which he did say (even if he appended it with, “… but we’re still really confident.”).
In terms of impact to the Cubs’ level of competitiveness in the early going, there probably isn’t much of one (unless another couple injury descend upon them). With the depth in their rotation, they are fairly well-equipped to absorb the loss of Garza for a few April starts, especially if Scott Baker is ready as early as he hopes to be.
That said, the Cubs definitely aren’t yet saying they are worried he’ll miss any regular season time. It’s way too early to worry about that, especially before the results of the MRI come back. There are no plans for his throwing program – it’s a wait-and-see time right now. In the meantime, I suspect he’ll just rest. Hopefully we’ll know more – and know good things – by the end of the week.
It was already fairly unlikely that Garza would be traded before the end of Spring Training, and this does nothing to increase those odds. Even if his schedule is not ultimately impacted, and he still throws well in March, these events will stick in teams’ minds. And the more Garza’s trade value drops, the less likely the Cubs are to even entertain trading him.