MILWAUKEE – Matt Garza hopes he took another step closer toward becoming a difference-maker. It’s too early to tell whether that happens with another team, or if it will be too late for the Cubs this season.
The brutal, unpredictable weather forced Garza inside Miller Park, where he threw a simulated game on Friday instead of making his first rehab start at Class-A Kane County. He’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Sunday before starting on Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee.
The Cubs are targeting Garza’s return in the middle of May, which would be three months after he strained a lat muscle on his left side during the team’s first full-squad workout. By then, it could be obvious which direction – sell – the front office will take at the trade deadline, though the team would get a lift from a frontline pitcher.
“I hope we’re not just sticking around,” Garza said. “I hope we’re actually putting it to people. We’re playing great. We’ve been hitting the ball. We’re pitching well. We just got to kind of control the mental side and that’s gonna come. We’ve been dealing with a lot of crap lately. Rain, snow, sleet – it’s nice to play someplace where you’re not going to be soaked by the fourth inning.”
Garza always takes the optimistic view of his team, but has deferred all questions about his future with the Cubs until he proves he’s healthy again. He’s positioned to become a free agent after this season, though the Cubs could make him a one-year qualifying offer. Those conversations will have to wait until he’s been pitching in real games – not working out a few hours before first pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I was just happy to be out there,” Garza said. “It doesn’t matter what time (or where). It was cold, there were no lights and I just said: Who cares, man? It’s just good to get on a bump. I’m excited. I’m pretty pumped. And now it’s back to work.”