Matt Garza, out since spring training with a strained left lat muscle, will start for the Cubs on Tuesday at Pittsburgh, his first major league start since July 21 of last year.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the club with activate Garza on Tuesday and send Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen. Garza will be limited to 85-90 pitches.
Asked if he would be on a pitch count, Garza said, "I don't know anything about that, and I hope not."
The Cubs most accomplished starter strained a left lat muscle during the first full-squad workout of spring training, a setback that interrupted Garza's attempt to return to the rotation by opening day after a stress reaction in his right elbow shut him down last July. The absence has been the longest of Garza's 8-year major league career.
"I'm just happy I don't have to go rehab again," said Garza, who made four minor league rehab starts. "This actually means something. I can't wait. It's been 10 months in the making."
Garza was scratched from an April 24 rehab start for Double-A Tennessee because of what Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer described as a "dead arm," a condition pitchers often encounter in spring training.
The Cubs considered having Garza make a fifth rehab start -– an option Garza opposed –- but he threw 75 pitches over six scoreless innings Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, which turned out to be his final test.
"It was just time to get him back," Sveum said.
Garza threw a bullpen session Saturday at Wrigley Field.
In eight starts this season, Villanueva is 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). The right-hander has spent much of his career shuttling between the bullpen and rotation.
"I don't think it was a competition [to stay in the rotation] but more of somebody being able to do something else," Sveum said.
Sveum said he will use Villanueva in any relief situation, not solely as a long reliever.
"He's got the ability to pitch late in the game because of the repertoire he has," Sveum said. "You're not afraid to use him against left-handed hitters because of his changeup and his ability to [throw] backdoor breaking balls."