The Chicago Cubs improved depth of the starting rotation may be tested at the beginning of the season. Scott Baker, recovering from Tommy John surgery, will likely be sidelined for the first couple weeks of the regular season and now it may appear that Matt Garza will not be ready by Opening Day.
Garza, who has not pitched in a Major League Baseball game since last July, injured himself on Sunday during his first throwing session since suffering the elbow injury that ended his 2012 season. The injury Garza suffered on Sunday is believed to be a strained lat muscle on the left-side of his body and the severity of the injury will be determined once the starting pitchers takes an MRI.
Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer did not appear to be too concerned with Garza’s injury.
“It’s probably difficult for the doctors and trainers to get a sense of the degree just by feeling it,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday. “There’s really no accurate news today, we have to wait and see. The good news is his arm feels good.” ESPN Chicago
Former Cubs’ starting pitcher Ryan Dempster suffered a strained lat injury last season and was placed on the disabled list for nearly two weeks. Fortunately for the Cubs and Garza, the injury occurred early enough in Spring Training that it shouldn’t impact the Cubs’ plans for the starting rotation. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Garza will likely be a part of the starting rotation to begin the season to go along with Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, and Travis Wood.
Nonetheless, an injury to Garza–even something as minor as this strained lat muscle appears to be–may not benefit the long-term plans for the Cubs and the starting pitcher. There is no question that Major League teams–specifically the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox–have been clamoring for Garza over the past season. The problem is Garza’s injury concerns have put any possible trade in a state of suspension. Garza needs to prove to not only the Cubs but to potentially interested teams that he is capable of staying healthy and pitching with sustained success. Suffering an injury in his first throwing session of the season does not help Garza’s effort.
The status of Garza’s injury will likely be updated once the pitcher takes his scheduled MRI.