The Cubs can see the reinforcements are coming, but Matt Garza is farther off in the distance.
Garza did long toss and threw off flat ground on Tuesday at Wrigley Field and still has to complete a few more bullpen sessions before going out on a rehab assignment. He strained a lat muscle during the team’s first full-squad workout almost two months ago, got shut down in early March and is ramping back up again.
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The Cubs had a loose timeframe for Garza – May 1 – that could have swung one week in either direction. But now a more realistic target date would be the second week of May, which is still an optimistic projection that assumes no more setbacks.
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Manager Dale Sveum said Garza will be out of the rotation for at least another month.
“He’s got to get built up,” Sveum said. “Basically, spring training is starting now.”
The Cubs are hoping to get a bounce from Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney, who is expected to play at a minor-league affiliate this weekend and be in the lineup next Tuesday at Wrigley Field against the Texas Rangers.
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Barney gashed his left kneecap during the team’s final exhibition game, crashing into a wall off the right-field line at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. He should be a stabilizing force for a team that needs pitching and defense while struggling to score runs.
“You miss that defense. (It’s) the best in baseball,” Sveum said. “He knows the system of playing guys and reading bats. Whether we’re shifting or (not), he knows that whole system and understands the pitchers on the mound, the pitch that’s being thrown. There’s just a calmness when he’s out there. There’s no question.”