MASH Unit Update: Garza’s Lat, Stewart’s Quad, Baker’s Elbow, Jackson’s Shoulder

nomar injured cubsAlthough there are certainly teams dealing with worse injury issues than the Cubs (particularly given that the Cubs weren’t expected to be any good anyway), and although some of the Cubs’ injury issues were to be expected, it’s hard to argue that things don’t look more dim now than they did six weeks ago. Even from a “flip first” perspective, the injuries to Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Ian Stewart are all a mighty boot in the groin. How are things looking for their respective recoveries? And what about Brett Jackson, who’s been out for over a week with totally-minor, not-at-all-a-concern shoulder inflammation?

  • There is no setback to report with respect to Garza, so that’s good, I suppose. But he’s not scheduled for a bullpen session until the first week of April, which, unless it’s April 1, is going to be a handful of days later than the 7 to 10 day estimate we were told it would take to get him back on the mound just a few days ago. I know there’s a lot of guess work involved in the recovery of a guy with a lat injury – who is also returning from a serious, long-term elbow injury – but it seems like, at every turn, the Garza injury updates are just a touch off from what we were told the last time (which was a touch off from what we were told the last time (which was a touch off from what we were told the last time)). You would be crazy to expect Garza back any time before mid-May at this point.
  • I’m sure it’s just as frustrating for Garza – moreso, actually – but I can’t stop thinking about the flurry of updates on his progress … he’ll be full go once Spring Training starts … he’ll be back in a week … he’ll be ready by Opening Day … he’ll probably start later that first week of the season, but will avoid the DL … he’ll start the season on the DL, but should be back when those 15 days are up … he’ll probably be back late April … he’ll probably be back early May …
  • The sliver of good news on Baker is that his current elbow strain is more related to the muscle than it is related to the ligament that was replaced during his Tommy John surgery. That’s not to say the injury is unconnected to his rehab, obviously, but at least there isn’t an immediate concern that his surgery failed or will require an additional procedure. Right now, the best case scenario – as far as I can see it – has Baker resuming throwing at the end of April, continuing his rehab and strengthening process over the ensuing six weeks, and returning to big league game action in mid-June. Is that enough time for him to establish trade value by late July if he’s dominant? Let’s just say I’m not really thinking in those terms with him. Hopefully he returns healthy and effective as soon as possible, and maybe a team-friendly extension starts to look like a good idea. That’s where my head’s at with him.
  • Ian Stewart’s injury progress – or lack thereof – has been lost in the pitching shuffle, but he keeps getting pushed back, too. It was already known that he was going to have to start the season on the DL after a “mild” quad strain has kept him out of action for the entirety of the Cactus League schedule, but now we learn that he won’t even start a rehab assignment until mid-April at the earliest. Since he’ll have had no game action in Spring Training, he’s going to need a couple weeks of that before returning, which means early May is the best case scenario at this point. And we still don’t know how his surgically repaired wrist is going to hold up.
  • And finally, the best news of the bunch goes to Brett Jackson and his shoulder, which has kept him out of action for other a week. It hasn’t prevented him from hitting, but the soreness is in his throwing shoulder, so the Cubs have thought it best to rest him (since he’s headed to Iowa to start the season anyway). Jackson is expected to resume games this week, but they might be of the minor league variety – which is to say Jackson could be “cut” at some point soon.
  • For his part, Dale Sveum sounds the most bummed about the Garza injury, because it disrupted the rotation, which was shaping up to be the one bright spot on the team.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

28 responses to “MASH Unit Update: Garza’s Lat, Stewart’s Quad, Baker’s Elbow, Jackson’s Shoulder”

  1. JR

    I am not worried at all about Garza. He’s shown a great ability to return from injuries quickly………………………………………….

  2. King Jeff

    At this point, I’m almost expecting a lost season for Garza and hoping the Cubs can get him on a “prove it” contract for a few million next year.

  3. Demarrer

    Don’t forget about Arodys Vizcaíno Brett. I believe I heard he was throwing off the mound now with no setbacks whatsoever. He’s arguably the most important player of this entire injury bunch.

  4. Mr. Gonzo

    Brett, you continue to pump out outstanding content on an ever-expanding editorial calendar, and it’s only Spring Training still! We really need you at full strength for Opening Day and on… no days off. An unexpected carpal flair-up, aggressive pointing injury, or losing your (editorial) voice while screaming hysterically about a potential Figgins signing could lead to devastating temporary lack of quality Cubs fodder. This could be a serious problem for us loyal readers. I hope you are taking good care of those writing elbows! Keep up the good work.

  5. OCCubFan

    As you say, it is extremely unlikely Baker can build “flippable” value by the trading deadline. So then the best-case is that he is really good for the last 3 months of season, but then he is likely to have raised his value on the free-agent market, thus making a Cub-friendly deal unlikely.

    1. Kyle

      Yeah. He either pitches himself out of a friendly deal or he’s not worth re-signing.

      Either way, I think we rolled the dice and lost, and that’s that. He’ll be 31 next year coming off multiple elbow injuries. Cut the line and move on.

      1. JR

        Hopefully when Baker comes back he is dominant in bullpen sessions and terrible when he pitches in games:). Just enough so the Cubs can see he has a chance next year, and bad enough to scare off other teams. I doubt anyone is going to spend much on Baker next year anyway. So whatever I guess..

  6. Jono

    I know this is completely an emotion reaction, but I’d love it if we didn’t have to read about Garza until he’s either back on the mound at Wrigley or there’s some extension agreed upon. I’m just so sick of hearing about him (which has nothing to do with your bloggin, Brett. You’ve been doing a great job. It’s just out of frustration on my part.)

    Normally my spring optimism lasts through the start of the regular season. But this year it’s fading away faster than usual. Maybe it’s the injuries? Maybe team USA losing in the second round of the WBC?

    1. willis

      It’s the frustration of a broken record talking here. And we’re all there. We’ve seen this show play out so many times in the last decade + that it’s tiresome and annoying. So we all fire away emotionally and get fed up real quickly.

  7. OCCubFan

    Players, managers, & front office people of all teams seem to be eternal optimists.
    “Although Smith’s arm fell off yesterday, it’s just a minor setback. We’ll just sew his arm back on and he’ll be at full strength within a week.”
    “Jones got a couple of minor bruises when he ran into the wall yesterday, he’ll be fine. We’ll rest him a few days and replace his knee just as a precautionary measure.”

    1. dumbledoresacubsfan

      Brett, install a “Like” button on the site, please. For the love of all that is Holy, this comment was awesome.

  8. Jeff

    Brett,

    What is our financial obligations to Baker? I’m assuming that we on the hook for all of his 5.5M salary.

  9. Spencer

    Almora? Lake?

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