Garza pushing to return this season

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Garza pushing to return this season

Matt Garza compared pitching to breathing on his Twitter account, so theres no doubt that hes going to push to return this season, even with his team so far out of contention.

But the Cubs are going to be cautious with Garza, whos sidelined indefinitely with a stress reaction in the back of his right elbow.

It sucks, man, theyre not letting me throw a ball, Garza said Thursday at Wrigley Field. Its not fun to come here and sit down. Yeah, I get to work out and ride a bike and watch a ballgame. But its still not what I like doing. I like being out there taking control of my game and being able to do what I get paid to do.

Garza almost guaranteed that hed return to the rotation after cutting loose during a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium last weekend. But he still felt stiff and further tests in Chicago convinced the Cubs to shut him down.

I just feel out of it, Garza said. I dont like not playing. Im not here to just watch. This is the toughest thing for me to face, not being able to do anything, like holding back from going out there and wanting to throw. Thats why I fought so long with them.

They just said theyve had enough and lets see what else is in there. Its nothing bad. Its just the doc said a little rest and (lets) just get it over with.

As a comparison, the Cubs have used reliever Blake Parker, who went on the disabled list with a similar injury on June 6 and just began his minor-league rehab assignment this week.

Garza last pitched on July 21 in St. Louis, which effectively killed his trade market before the deadline. General manager Jed Hoyer said Garza will likely be a Cub in 2013, the final year of club control after contract extension talks earlier this season gained no momentum.

Garza proving hes healthy again this season would appear to help his state of mind, and give the Cubs something to think about over the winter.

If somebody keeps wanting me to play, Im all for it, Garza said. Im not looking ahead to anything. Im just trying to get to where I can get back on the field and start playing. Hopefully, its soon, sooner than later, and Im going to be working my tail off to get it that way.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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