Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Garza has setback, to open on DL; Samardzija named Opening Day starter

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MESA, Ariz. - Cubs' starting pitcher Matt Garza will open the season on the disabled list, the team said Sunday, after experiencing a setback while coming back from a left lat strain suffered Feb. 17.

One day after saying his throwing session Saturday went well, the team said Sunday it didn't go so well after all, and the right-hander will be shut down again for about another week.

That could sideline him for the first month of the season, manager Dale Sveum said.

"I don't think it's that bad," Sveum said. "It's just not ready to throw a baseball yet. But it's not torn. ... It didn't get worse. He's just not ready to step up any extra intensity throwing."

Garza played catch from 60 feet Thursday in his first throwing session since the injury, and increased the intensity some Saturday when he felt the lat tug.

The immediate result of the flareup is that the Cubs' opening rotation is set a full four weeks before the season starts.

It also opened the door for Sveum to make an early announcement of his Opening Day starter - Jeff Samardzija - a choice he admitted he'd already settled on.

Right-hander Scott Baker, who missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery and is building up more slowly than other pitchers in camp, already was to open the season on the DL.

That means Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood both make the opening rotation, Sveum said.

They join Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman.

"That's the nice thing about he depth that we bring in, to be able to fill those two spots,'' Sveum said. "We pretty much knew Baker was going to be in the middle of April. We weren't quite sure about how the elbow was going to respond with Garza, and obvioualy that was going really well.

"But now we have this minor setback."

Garza missed the last nine weeks of the season in 2012 because of a "stress reaction" in his pitching elbow. This will be his third trip to the DL in as many seasons with the Cubs.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 3, 2013 11:15 AM.

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