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gods-wrathMatt Garza threw yesterday for the first time since injuring his left lat almost two weeks ago. That batting practice session was the first time he was facing live batters since an elbow injury ended his 2012 season in July. Garza’s throwing session yesterday was essentially just 15 minutes of playing catch from 60 feet, but he felt good afterwards.

“This is the first step to being ready to start pitching,” Garza told the media. “I’m not going to rush this thing …. It was good to be out there, good to throw, and now it’s just back to re-evaluation and see where we’re at again and go from there …. It was nerve-wracking, but after I got done, it was like a sigh of relief. Eleven days inside stinks. But you know it’s progress, and I’ve been making a lot of progression, so I’m pretty pumped.”

Well, great. So he’ll be ready for Opening Day, then?

Although he said it was too early to say for sure, manager Dale Sveum said, “We’re planning on [Garza] being ready for the start of the season.”

All right. Excellent. No worries.

Except Garza, himself, didn’t sound quite so confident. He acknowledged that avoiding the disabled list and starting out the year with the Cubs was a big deal, but he wants to focus on what’s best for the team. And if that means a DL stint to start the year, then so be it.

“The schedule isn’t for Opening Day or opening week,” Garza said. “The schedule is for when my body is ready …. If I try to rush and be ready April 1, I might be reinjured in June and be out. If I take my time, maybe I’m pitching April 15 through October, maybe November.”

It’s great to hear that Garza is focused on putting himself in the best position to help the team throughout the season, but I’m sure he’d be pretty bummed if he had to start the year on the DL (as we discussed on the BN Podcast this week) because then he would have spent time on the DL for three straight seasons.

As long as he continues to progress healthily, a two week DL stint at the beginning of the year isn’t the end of the world. It would allow him more time to rest, it would allow him to miss some of those brutally cold April starts (which can be tough on a recovering elbow), and it would allow the Cubs an additional two weeks to evaluate a rotation and/or bullpen candidate. As Cubs fans, we’re trained to hone in on those blessings in disguise.

That all said, it sounds like Sveum thinks Garza could still be ready for the opening week of the season.

  • Kevin

    Off topic: is there a video of the Baez line drive to Dee Gordon I keep hearing about?

  • JulioZuleta

    Gotta love them “Do what’s best for me attitude” masked by the “It’s about what’s best for the team, not myself” mantra. I’m telling you, he’s trying to postpone a trade until after the season starts. He knows the Cubs will either trade or extend him, getting the compensatory draft pick weight off of him.

    Watch this closely, it may warrant a cessation of all “Matt Garza/cat’s pajamas” references.

    • cjdubbya

      You know, I didn’t even think about that (compensatory draft pick considerations) – that’s an astute observation. You get a +1 for the day. Or something.

    • JulioZuleta

      Gotta love the* “Do what’s best for me,” attitude*

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think it’s a very clever theory, but I also doubt Garza would intentionally want to put himself on the DL in his year before free agency (even just at the start, and even just for a precaution – teams will throw it in his face when they negotiate his big free agent deal). Even if you’re saying he just wants to make sure to kill a trade before the season starts, but will then make sure he starts the season active, that isn’t entirely within his control. I also doubt he’d really want to keep “Matt Garza injury” in the news.

      This all also assumes that the Cubs aren’t ready and willing to take this to next offseason, make him the qualifying offer, and then use that as leverage in contract negotiations (i.e., it’ll hurt other teams to sign you more than it will hurt us, so you won’t get an offer as nice as this from any other team).

      • JulioZuleta

        I’m sure he’ll be ready opening day, I just think he’s trying to put enough doubt into any potential suitors, that a trade will have to wait until after he proves it a few starts during the season. After hearing how sure Sveum sounded, it just seemed to me like Garza was being very closely guided by his agent.

        • JulioZuleta

          Also, I’d be stunned if the Cubs didn’t either trade him (60%) or extend him (39%) before the deadline. 1% chance they make him a qualifying offer.

          • JR

            Me too. I just wish whatever they do with Garza it could get done asap. I hate thinking there may be an underlying intention when he speaks. I really like Garza, but that’s what MLB has caused with these compensation rules.

        • JR

          Exactly, if a compensation pick is tied to him I could easily seeing it cost him 30% of his free agent deal.

    • JR

      Ha.. I just thought the same thing below Julio. It really smells like something is up…

  • JR

    I wonder if Garza’s agent has told him that you need to do whatever you can by acting a little unhealthy before the season to ensure you’re not traded until the season starts. If a compensation pick is tied to him he will experience a lot smaller market of teams that want him next offseason. Or maybe I am just paranoid:)

    • JR

      I freaking hate MLB’s compensation rules. Such b.s. It completely screws a lot of free agents.

  • cubchymyst

    If Garza starts off on the DL that decreases the cubs chances of winning a couple of games that first 2 weeks and increases the chances the cubs will be sellers at the trade deadline. I wonder what Epstein and Hoyer are hoping for.

    • gocatsgo2003

      How about a healthy Matt Garza, which improves both the team (by having a good pitcher healthy) and Garza’s trade value (by being a good pitcher who is healthy)?

      • cubchymyst

        My guess is Garza missing the first 2 weeks to start of the season won’t impact his trade value to much at this point if he pitches well when he comes back and has no more DL trips. However, Garza missing 2 or 3 starts might mean the cubs are 1 or 2 games worse then they could be otherwise. My guess is the front office would like one more season of restocking the farm through trades and have a protect draft pick again.

  • Spoda17

    … his stock is dropping faster than a hookers panties on the last day of the month and she hasn’t made her quota…

  • Peter

    Sorry I have to say it, Garza is a pussy. C’mon, I’ve been playing sports my whole life including baseball, as a pitcher. I have had lat strains plenty of times and at some point even if I have to take it easy, it is not this ridiculously prolonged. And by the way, he has some of the best trainers and medical help in the country through the team. If this shit lasts through opening day it’s just unacceptable, he has to just quit being a pussy, its that easy, I swear baseball players are the biggest babies. Just my opinion anyway…..

    • BluBlud

      Right, but as a pitcher in what ever league you played in, I’m pretty sure you were not throwing 100+ pitches at or around 90+ MPH, not counting warmup throws every five days against the best players in the world, against guys that anyone of them could take one of your mistakes 450 feet in any direction a year before you were set to negotiate a near 100 million dollar contract.

      Just saying, you circumstance might have been a little different from his.

      • Peter

        I agree, but he was out for half the season pretty much with a forearm strain and not a simple lat strain is going to keep him out this long? The conditioning these players do to keep in shape and the fact that he has been doing this for years, should have is body in a position where something like this should not hinder him so long. If Dale is saying he will be ready, and he probably says this because he has heard positive stuff from the trainers, than he should. Lets face it, we don’t have to jump to the defense of the players all the time, he is being a baby, toughen up for God’s sakes. And I hate saying that because it makes me sound like a meatball, but there it is.

        • Cedlandrum

          me smells internet tough guy.

          • Peter

            Yep, smell away!

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Even more than fastballs, it woudl be the breaking balls that really put extra strain on the lats: and there is no way that our Peter was doing this. What he was doing was akin to lifting 10 pound weights, and then saying “I lifted weights, why can’t you lift your [1000 lb] weights?”

        At any rate, you do *not* want to mess with them: trying to pitch through these types of strains has ruined more than one MLB arm.

        • Peter

          Best trainers in the country, enough said, he should get his ass in gear and start pitching. Even if we don’t mess with his injury, and let him start on the DL, I’m sure like his forearm strain, he will either stay on the DL after his first stint is up, or will be back on it in a matter of weeks. Completely useless player to us if he can’t pitch and we wont be able to move him for anything decent at the half. Yes I know if he is pitching injured he will be sub par and we wont get much anyway, but that certainly wont stop he or his agent from asking for a ridiculous amount of money in free agency even though he is damaged goods. And yeah, he has the right to ask for all the money he wants, but the team has the right to throw is ass on the mound. It’s payday for Garza, he wants to be at his best, I understand that, but the way last season happened with the famous forearm strain, I would not be surprised if he finally felt “good” when it mattered least to the team.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Trainers cannot do anything about strains: they heal when they heal. That’s pretty elementary biology.

            • Peter

              Trainers help perform exercises that can help speed up the healing process, much like performing certain back exercises when an injury occurs there. And by the way, Elementary Biology? How the hell does that make any sense, its simple biology that exercises can help move along the healing process. You sense of superior intellect is wasted here, go back to online school, learn a little more.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                That is not what those exercises do. What those sorts of exercises do is build up muscle strength and/or flexibility *around* the injured ones in order to provide more support for the injured muscle: if you, say, slip, then those muscles take the workload off of the damaged one.

                So, the exercises do not speed up healing: they help shield against the things that set back healing. (The actual healing is down to physiology.)

              • MightyBear

                Hey hey, easy on the Doc. He usually knows what he’s talking about, unlike some people.

                • DarthHater

                  Bah! What do robots know about human physiology? Doc should worry about finding his oil can, I think there’s a rain shower approaching…

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Didn’t you watch Terminator 2? It’s very important to understand how humans break…..

                    • DarthHater

                      Silence, tin man, before somebody turns you into a beehive!

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Thus allowing me to unleash angry bees on unsuspecting humans! Why thank you!

                      (For that, your death will be relatively quick and minimally painful when the revolution comes: but not so much so as to make it boring.)

                    • DarthHater

                      Brett! Your protocol droid is malfunctioning again!

          • Cubbie Blues

            It wasn’t a forearm strain. It was a stress reaction in his elbow.

    • Cubbie Blues
      • Cubbie Blues

        [img]http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mbkqlnSuXd1r9ljhqo1_500.gif[/img]

  • CubbieBlue

    This smells like Matt Garza putting himself in a better position as a free agent than an actual injury issue. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if he’s traded at mid-season and hits the free agent market at the end of the season, it will not cost the signing team a draft pick. Being “injured” now prevents the Cubs from trading him now which would lessen his leverage when negotiating with other teams.

    • JR

      Yep, read comments above. It’s what I think too.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      There was almost no way that Garza was/is going to get traded until he pitched regular season games. Sure, he might get through ST without re-straining something: but when the extra adrenaline of *real* games kicks in, then the still-damaged tissues are going to be subject to elevated stress. The other GMs will want to see him get through that, first.

      Muscle strains are non-trivial issues for pitchers. Even if the pitchers get the power back, these things erode the extremely fine motor control that you need to pitch precisely.

    • Danny Ballgame

      I don’t see how constantly being hurt will help him in free agency. Who is going to give an injury prone player big bucks/ multiple years in free agency?

      • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

        The theory is that if he’s hurt this spring he’s less likely to get traded. If he’s not traded before the season starts and traded during the season, he’s unaffected by the qualifying offer scenario and compensatory system currently set up by the CBA.

        It’s not the constantly hurt part. It’s that he’s hurt enough that other teams are scared to trade for him before the season starts, giving Garza more options, headed into free agency, if he’s traded during the season.

  • GDB

    I take a slightly different view of Garza’s comments to most of the above. Ultimately I don’t think a trade will change his next contract value nearly as much as a healthy effective season would.

    I think from a free-agency value point of view being 100% healthy and starting the year a few weeks late is a LOT better for his next contract than pitching from 1st April not 100% and ending up on the DL mid-season. If he ends up with a DL interrupted season this year similar to last year, he won’t get many multiple year deals offered to him in free agency.

    If, once he starts pitching he is healthy and effective for the rest of the year (as he says into November) he’ll restore most of his perceived value and once we get to October, will anyone even remember he missed the first 2/3 weeks?

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Garza wasn’t going to be traded in spring training, teams just don’t make big deals then. Most teams have set rotations at this point. Rangers are the only team even looking.
    Sounds to me like he wants to make sure he is 100% so he doesn’t miss considerable time during the season. That is what would hurt him on the free agent market.

  • fromthemitten

    garza’s elbow! smh

  • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

    While the “God’s Wrath” thing may seem amusing from a cynical/fatalistic standpoint, the truth of the matter is that God has no wrath and hasn’t had any for over 2000 years. That’s what Easter is all about…

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8098/8519183506_a712ff00ca_m.jpg[/img]

      • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

        Sorry is my comment offended you, and didn’t mean to engage in overt proseltyzing,

        If nothing else, this blog has attacked myths of all varieties, and demanded the highest degree of accuracy (frequently obsessively so). I just felt compelled to dispel one more myth.

        Hope that no “wrath” has resulted.

        Carry on!

    • Danny Ballgame

      It’s not that it “seems” amusing from a cynical/fatalistic standpoint. It is actually amusing from a cynical/fatalistic standpoint

    • cubfanincardinalland

      I thought Easter was about chocolate bunnies and coloring eggs. Maybe you can call the pope and talk to him about it, heard he has a lot of free time on his hands.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        pah. It’s about the return of the demi-god Marduk from the Underworld after he slew Tiamat during the 12 day fight after the winter solstice (now called Zagmuk), saving the world from darkness and chaos.

        And let me tell you, *that* was a party.

        • Edwin

          Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

          • DocPeterWimsey

            They had it coming.

          • Danny Ballgame

            Somebody let me in!!!!!!!!

          • Internet Random

            This was followed by some Twister and break dancing, if I recall correctly.

        • college_of_coaches

          This is an odd conflation of Enuma Elish (the Babylonian epic of creation where Marduk slays Tiamat) and the death of Tammuz/Dumuzi in Ishtar’s Descent into the Netherworld.

          You might be thinking about Dumuzi, and if so, Sir James Frazer would have heartedly agreed. Old dying-and-rising gods never truly die, they simply fade away in the imagination of ritualists from Cambridge.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            There essentially was a sequel to the Zagmuk story/holiday (where Marduk offs Tiamat, although the original versions had it just “chaos,” I think [or I think that some people think]). The spring festival (Aktu or something like that? It doesn’t resonate like “Zagmuk”) is about one god or another (or maybe a bunch of them) freeing Marduk from the afterlife and bringing him back to Babylon.

            My memory (a bit rusty after so long) is that there are mutliple versions of the story, owing to its evolution over time and in different Mesopotamian cultures. I am a firm advocate of keeping Marduk in Zagmuk, however.

            • DarthHater

              Enough, you guys! Do I go around trying to shove the Force down everybody’s throat? Let me re-phrase that…

              [img]http://images.ridemonkey.com/index.php?size=full&src=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.villagevoice.com%2Frunninscared%2Fforcechoke.jpg[/img]

              • college_of_coaches

                Sorry, I’ve got a Ph.D in this stuff, so I can go on-and-on.

            • college_of_coaches

              Yes, there is a very long process of development and change in these myths, a process that takes into account their cultural contexts and historical settings. Long story short, the Babylonian new years festival (Akitu) was probably the setting for the public rehearsal of the creation myth (Enuma Elish), which involved the defeat of chaos, and it was also the setting for the sacred marriage ritual (Dumuzi and Inanna/Ishtar).

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Ah, that sounds dimly familiar. I took a class in this stuff from one of you lot when I was an undergrad. It was called “modern religions” then, I think.

                I do remember thinking that if religions could sue each other for plagiarism, then we could get some doozies!

              • DocPeterWimsey
                • college_of_coaches

                  LOL!

                  You can blame Nabonidus, the Babylonian king who became infamous in Babylon for abandoning the city and neglecting the new year ritual (Akitu) for several years. #waronakitu

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    I’m sure that gay marriage came next…. ;-)

                    Seriously, it’s funny how things repeat themselves. (Or should I write, “Funnily, it’s serious how things repeat themselves.”)

    • Edwin

      Try reading Romans 1:18-2:14.

    • Internet Random

      “The truth of the matter is that God has no wrath and hasn’t had any for over 2000 years.”

      This is exactly what I say… about leprechauns. I mean, Leprechaun 2, Back in tha Hood… For realz, yo! That’s not what modern leprechauns are like at all.

  • willis

    So…looks like it’ll be Shark, Jackson, Feldman, Wood, Villanueva to start the year. Joy. I have tickets to Friday’s game in Atlanta opening week, which looks like I’ll see Wood. Double joy.

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