LOS ANGELES In Matt Garzas mind, theres no doubt that hes on track to start Tuesday night in San Diego.
You better effin believe it, dude, Garza said.
Thats not entirely up to Garza, who felt much better on Saturday after throwing a bullpen and off flat ground at Dodger Stadium. But the Cubs havent pushed him back again either, which looked like a real possibility after shutting down Fridays bullpen.
Its not his decision, manager Dale Sveum said with a laugh. Im glad he thinks that way.
Thats still more than a week too late for a front office that wanted another showcase start or two. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer got plenty of interesting calls about Garza before the trade deadline, even though he hadnt pitched since July 21. The Cubs called it triceps cramping and indicated the MRI on his right elbow was mostly clean, except for traces of fluid.
But the uncertainty made it difficult if not impossible for the Cubs to extract maximum value for Garza, whos 28 and under club control next season. Epstein and Hoyer called the timing unfortunate and seemed to signal that they would be open for business again this winter.
It is a guy you could build a rotation around, Sveum said, but the fact of the matter is you still listen to offers (on) anybody. Thats just the way the game is. (But), yeah, when everythings right, he can go out there with no-hitter stuff.
Garza wont be at that level the next time out, limited to around 70 or 80 pitches. He felt stiff on Friday, though the Cubs said that was to be expected after taking three days off to be with his wife during the birth of their fourth child.
(Im) anxious as hell, Garza said. But Im running my butt off and doing everything I can (to get ready). Getting out there is a different story. I want to get out there first, then Ill worry about pitch counts and all that other crap later.