Cubs dont expect Garza to tone it down

693900.png

Cubs dont expect Garza to tone it down

MESA, Ariz. Alfonso Soriano was trying to collect his thoughts when you heard loud beeping noises at the other end of the clubhouse.

The question was about Matt Garzas personality, and pretty soon everyone started giggling. Garza was alone at his locker on Tuesday, laying down beats and singing Im Sexy and I Know It. Soriano had to smile.

Whatever he does, people laugh, because thats him, Soriano said. Its not like hes done something wrong. We love him (the way) he is, because hes not a bad guy. The most important thing is when he pitches, he shows up (to) win."

Garza may not quite be misunderstood, but even he admits he takes some getting used to. Thats why the 28-year-old pitcher has been dropping by the managers office, to acclimate Dale Sveum to life with Garza.

He doesnt know how I am during the game, Garza said, how my reactions are, how heated I get. I want him to be able to see all that. Give me some time, Ill cool off and well chitchat, shoot the crap a little bit. Im just showing him that (at) my competitive level I (still) know how to draw the line.

Life without Garza a possibility that had to be considered while the Cubs dangled him on the trade market this winter would be far less interesting inside what has been a quiet clubhouse.

Garza allowed two runs in two innings during an 11-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. Sveum had to laugh when Garza was by the on-deck circle asking if he and strengthconditioning coordinator Tim Buss could go shirtless while running the warning track after his start.

Its kind of an inside joke, Garza said.

There were two interpretations. Either Garza saw a Rockies pitcher in a tank top, or the day before Ryan Dempster was caught running in a shirt that Sveum compared to a tight Speedo.

Either way, Sveum isnt going to tell Garza to tone it down (something that may have happened last year). The TV cameras will still find Garza yelling from the top step of the dugout.

I have no problem with that, Sveum said. Thats part of the game. You dont restrain that kind of stuff. You dont let it get out of hand (either). David Cone was like that (and) the four days David Cone didnt pitch were probably the most entertaining days of all. Theres nothing wrong with that. Its actually appreciated.

Garza spent a lot of time during last years camp with earphones on or a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head. He was almost an island, the centerpiece to a blockbuster trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. He seems far more comfortable now, to the point where Sveum mentions him as a leader alongside Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood.

Its just me, Garza said. Ive said it over and over and over again: I just like being out there. Its not fun to just sit there for nine innings, three hours, 160 times a year it gets boring. Im very antsy. I dont like sitting still. So why not have fun out there?

So Garza isnt Carlos Zambrano, though that doesnt necessarily mean the Cubs are going to hand him a huge contract extension, which figures to be a discussion sometime this spring.

Hes a huge piece the personality, the work ethic, (and) he cares so much about winning, Sveum said. The example he sets (and) how hard he works and competes on the mound (becomes) a huge asset (for) your organization.

Garza has pitched in the World Series before, and desperately wants to get back to October. He described Sveum as blue collar.

Thats what you need here, Garza said. We work a normal 9-to-5. We dont work 2-to-11. So in order to survive here, you got to be able to get up and put your work in like a blue-collar worker. Thats the way Cubs baseball should be.

A step forward for Kyle Hendricks and Cubs rotation

A step forward for Kyle Hendricks and Cubs rotation

MIAMI – Kyle Hendricks got as excited as his buttoned-up personality would allow after finishing Saturday’s pain-free throwing session and feeling no lingering effects on Sunday in his right hand.  

“Effervescent, bubbly,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said at Marlins Park. “It sounds like he is encouraged by the whole thing. Again, I told him I just want you to feel the baseball when you throw it. So we’ll just play it along and continue to stay on this program.

“Of course, it’s probably aggressive right now to think prior to the All-Star break. But you never know. I don’t want to rule anything out. Just let him go throw.”

Hendricks – who has been sidelined since early June with inflammation in a tendon on the back of his right middle finger – played catch from 60 feet and will need several more days of throwing before moving to the mound.

Hendricks – a Cy Young Award finalist and major-league ERA leader last season – has been staying on top of his shoulder exercises and overall conditioning. But he would still probably need to work up to at least one start in the minors, leaving the details on any rehab plan fuzzy.  

“It’s kind of on me,” Hendricks said. “That’s why we’re taking it slow here in the beginning, so hopefully nothing creeps back up, because it was kind of a weird injury in the first place. We didn’t know exactly what it was. It took us a little while to figure it out.

“Obviously, it could get sore again or something could happen. I just got to go day-to-day here these first few days, take it easy and make sure that doesn’t creep back up. Hopefully, we can just go from there.”

Even while missing a World Series Game 7 starter, the rotation has been trending in the right direction, posting a 2.51 ERA in the previous 11 games to reverse a 5.28 ERA in the 11 games before that. But to pull away from .500 and make a second-half push, the Cubs will absolutely need Hendricks. 

“They’ve just really fallen into a groove,” Hendricks said. “They’re really taking the workload better. Just from the top, what (Jon) Lester’s been able to do, he’s carrying the rotation with the way he’s pitched. But right behind him, (Jake) Arrieta’s thrown the ball much better lately. Even ‘Lack’ (John Lackey) his last few starts, so they’ve been carrying the load.

“I feel that on me a little bit. I want to come back, obviously, and be part of it and help them out with that.”

Preview: Cubs-Marlins Sunday on CSN

Preview: Cubs-Marlins Sunday on CSN

The Cubs take on the Miami Marlins on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m., followed by first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies on the call. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Mike Montgomery (1-3, 2.26 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (3-8, 4.19 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.