Matt Garza’s throwing program continues, though he’s not yet back on the mound after suffering a lat strain back in February. He threw from 75 feet Sunday, and has to keep stretching that out before he can get back on the mound. “We went to 75 feet yesterday for the second day,” Garza said of throwing on Sunday, per ESPN. “Twenty throws, no pain. I’m trying to speed it up but they have me on a real set pace right now.” From Dale Sveum’s perspective, things are going well. “He’s doing great,” he said. “We’re finally over the hurdle – knock on wood – the smallest hurdles of throwing and coming in and feeling great and not feeling any little thing. Now it’s the stage of getting on the mound.” Sveum said, though, that he doesn’t expect Garza back until the beginning of May.
Garza added, per CSN, that he could see the lat injury being something of a blessing in disguise. “My elbow was fine in December when I first started throwing. I wouldn’t have started if it wasn’t OK,” Garza said. “But that was not even a thought when this happened. I was just like, ‘Man, something awesome happened and now this happened.’ But maybe that was the blessing in disguise. Twenty-four days off not throwing is more time for it to rest. So it’s kind of a bonus, but not the bonus I wanted.”
Sveum isn’t quite yet ready to close the door on Ian Stewart opening the season with the Cubs, but he doesn’t sound optimistic. “It’s definitely stalled,” Sveum said, per ESPN. “We have a small window for him to be ready, but obviously that window is getting ready to shut [as far as being ready] for Opening Day.” Stewart was to get a second MRI on his strained quad yesterday, and we’re still waiting on those results. If he’s had a setback, physically, it’s basically impossible to see him not starting the year on the DL (assuming the Cubs keep him, which I’m assuming they will).
Alfonso Soriano continues to be a quality leader and mentor for young players. His conversation with Jorge Soler before the top prospect departed big league camp, per CSN: “Sori told me: No matter what kind of money you get, whatever your signing bonus is, you still got to work hard every single day. And when you go down to the minor leagues, you got to be the example for the young kids.”
Soler mentioned in another interview that he has to adjust to the idea that pitchers over here can throw off-speed stuff for strikes in a 2-0, 3-1 count. It’s a telling reminder that he isn’t used to seeing that kind of thing, which is going to be a very basic adjustment for him.
Phil Rogers says the Cubs may use newly-signed Cuban pitcher Armando Rivero as a starter this year in the minors, but mostly so he can work on his pitch mix more. (Frequently, prospects who are known to be future relief pitchers are used as “starters” in the minors so that they can be certain to get in a set number of pitches or face a set number of batters.) It sounds like, right now, he’s got a decent fastball and a good splitter, but that’s it.
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