Cubs counting on a strong return by Garza

Cubs counting on a strong return by Garza
December 5, 2012, 2:40 am
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. One year from now, Matt Garza could be the type of big-game pitcher that teams are fighting over at the winter meetings.

But that presumes Garzas completely healthy and puts together the type of monster season the Cubs believe hes capable of having.

Garzas expected to begin throwing within the next several days as he recovers from the stress reaction in his right elbow. The Cubs met with his agents here at the Gaylord Opryland and have received good reports from their medical staff. Signs are pointing to him being in the Opening Day rotation.

His mood, his optimism seems really good, and sometimes you have to gauge a lot based on that, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. He was pretty down in July and early August. You could tell he knew there was something wrong with him. Now you get the sense that hes excited to get going and start his real rehab.

His mood is hopefully indicative of a totally healthy guy that can be ready to go in spring training.

Theres nothing subtle about Garza, from his tattoos to his money quotes to the shaving-cream pies he liked to slam into teammates faces during postgame television interviews. His state of mind is telling.

You know Garza, manager Dale Sveum said. He cant wait to get back on the mound. (But) right now, hes at baby steps.

The Cubs shut down Garza in the second half of last season and didnt push his return with the team so far out of contention. Even if he had pitched into September, this is still roughly the time hed start cranking it up and throwing again.

The Cubs would love to see Garza channel all that intensity in the right direction and become a complete pitcher. That means finishing hitters and fielding his position. (Remember all those wild throws to first base winding up in the stands?) In what looks like his final season before hitting free agency, there will be plenty of motivation.

Hes the type of pitcher thats a frontline guy that can and should be a No. 1, No. 2 (starter), Sveum said. But he has to get to that level of winning and not giving games away with that kind of stuff, and he knows that. Hell be the first one to tell you theres something that always gets in the way of domination.

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