Cubs: Matt Garza feels like hes been locked in a cage

782508.png

Cubs: Matt Garza feels like hes been locked in a cage

Matt Garza would probably be on edge anyway.

Even if his season hadnt ended July 21 last year. Even if he wasnt about 10 days away from getting on the mound and throwing a bullpen session. Even if he wasnt pitching for a big contact in his platform year. Thats just how he rolls.

Ive kind of been locked in a cage for six months, Garza said Friday.

Garza is perhaps The Most Interesting Man at the Cubs Convention, because his health will be a major story line and from the beginning of the Theo Epstein administration what the front office did with him would say a lot about this rebuilding project.

Right now, Garza says he wont have any restrictions in spring training and expects to be part of the Opening Day rotation. In reality, whatever the Cubs decide to do with Garza is on hold as he recovers from the stress reaction in his right elbow.

Garza avoided arbitration on Thursday by agreeing to a 10.25 million deal that should take him into free agency. Hes curious to see what direction the organization takes, and surely understands that the team will have to get off to a good start or else it will be time to sell-off the short-term assets. Hes open to a future in Chicago, but knows he will have to take control of the situation first.

Ive said multiple times I love this city, Garza said. My family loves this city, but at the end of the day its: Do I fit? My ability to pitch, is it there? Its all going to come down to me pitching. Thats kind of it. All of the decision will be based off that.

The Garza question has been asked so many different ways across the past 14 months: Trade? Extend? Play it out? But its pointless now to look anywhere beyond his rehab schedule and wonder if the Cubs would be willing to offer something north of the four-year, 52 million deal Edwin Jackson got this winter.

Its not the right time, general manager Jed Hoyer said. If theres a time in the future where he feels really good, thats a more rational time to have that discussion. I dont think right now is the time to enter those discussions. Were really happy with everything weve heard, both from the doctors and from Matt and were optimistic that hes ready to go.

When healthy, Garza is the ultimate win-now player, a big-game pitcher whos done it before in the playoffs and the American League East. That makes him an awkward fit for a franchise thinking 2015 and beyond.

They werent messing around when they came in last year and said they were going to rebuild from the bottom up, Garza said. Last year when we did rookie dress-up I bought like 27 costumes. I knew there was going to be a lot of new faces. (But) its like a breath of fresh air. These guys want to play, theyre hungry. And I know the front office wants to win.

CubsTalk Podcast: Top prospect update

ian-happ-cubstalk-podcast-slide.png
USA TODAY

CubsTalk Podcast: Top prospect update

Mick Gillispie — the broadcaster for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies as well as the Cubs' spring training broadcaster — joins Tony Andracki to break down some of the organization's top prospects, analyzing the beginning of the 2017 season for guys Ian Happ, Duane Underwood, Eloy Jimenez, Chesny Young, Victor Caratini and Trevor Clifton.

Mick also explains the wackiest game in Smokies history, how a winning culture has disseminated throughout the Cubs minor-league teams and what the World Series ring ceremony was like in Tennessee.

Check out the latest edition of the CubsTalk Podcast:

Cubs tinker with rotation for series in Boston

Cubs tinker with rotation for series in Boston

With all the off-days in the season's opening month, it's given the Cubs an opportunity to tinker with their rotation.

They're shaking things up with the order again ahead of the three-game set against the Red Sox in Boston. The Cubs will roll with Jake Arrieta Friday on CSN, John Lackey Saturday and Kyle Hendricks Sunday. 

Hendricks just threw Tuesday night in the second game of the Pirates series in Pittsburgh. He enjoyed the best start of his 2017 season, allowing six baserunners in six shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 4.50 and WHIP to 1.27.

Despite the strong start, the 2016 MLB ERA leader wasn't willing to say he's "back."

"It's just one start," he told reporters Tuesday night. "It's not a "back" thing. I'm not in the zone, dialed in like I was last year. That was a completely different feeling and sensation.

"[But I] felt a lot better. It's more on track."

Brett Anderson will get an extra day and is on track to start the first game back at Wrigley against the Philadelphia Phillies Monday.

Assuming there are no other changes to the rotation, Jon Lester will follow Anderson before the Arrieta-Lackey-Hendricks trio goes again.

The Cubs won't have another off-day until Thursday, May 11 and are set to play 13 games in 13 days.