PEORIA, Ariz. – Maybe Matt Garza has finally learned how to slow down. This time the hyperactive Cubs pitcher isn’t rushing to get back on the mound.
Garza made about 20 throws from 75 feet out on Sunday and hopes to push that range to 120-to-150 feet this week. But he isn’t making promises or trying to speed up the rehab after straining a lat muscle on his left side during the team’s first full-squad workout last month.
“I want to get comfortable throwing,” Garza said Monday. “I want to build up arm strength. Once again, it was 24 days off, just under a month, and that’s too much time for me to just jump on a mound right now.”
Manager Dale Sveum thinks Garza cleared a hurdle by throwing with a little extra intensity and feeling good the day after. But there are several more steps before the Cubs can even think about adding Garza to their rotation.
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Garza has held out hope for returning in mid-to-late April. Sveum is looking at May 1 and thinking it could swing seven days in either direction. But the manager said “obviously it could be the middle of May.”
Another variable will be Garza’s right elbow. He still hasn’t pitched in a game since last July after getting shutdown with a stress reaction. He’s insisted that’s a non-issue.
“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.”