Matt Garza set to return Tuesday vs. Pirates
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org May 18, 2013 8:28PM
New York Mets v Chicago Cubs
Updated: June 20, 2013 4:46PM
Cubs pitcher Matt Garza admitted there was trepidation when he took the mound for Class AA Tennessee last month for his first start since last July.
“The only time I was nervous was when I made my first rehab in Tennessee,” Garza said. “The first couple pitches I was a little worried, but then it was fine. Ever since then, there’s been no doubt in my mind.”
There is no doubt anymore for the Cubs, who will return Garza to the rotation Tuesday in Pittsburgh for his first major-league action since July 28. He missed the rest of last season with a stress reaction in his right elbow.
His hopes to return for the start of this season were set back in spring training when he suffered a strained left lat.
But Garza’s minor-league outings went well, and his last one Thursday for Class AAA Iowa confirmed he was ready.
“When they told me to get six innings in and I did, that was the lobbying,” he said Saturday.
Manager Dale Sveum said Garza had done everything asked of him.
“I’m happy I don’t have to rehab again,” Garza said. “I just had to refresh some stuff from spring training, got the rust off. I feel great, ready to go Tuesday and can’t wait.”
Sveum said the Cubs will move struggling starter Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen and make a corresponding roster move Tuesday, likely sending a reliever to the minors.
Villanueva is 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA but is winless in his last five outings. He was hit hardest in his last three.
“I’m glad I didn’t have to make the decision. I just had to force it,’’ Garza said. “[Villanueva is] a true professional, and he’ll do whatever he has to to help the team.’’
Garza said the 10-month absence was the longest he has experienced.
“It was tough mentally, but I had my family, my wife and kids to help me through it,’’ he said. “The mental part was tough, one setback after another, but I’m glad I got through it and can’t wait for Tuesday.’’
Anthony Rizzo is batting .390 with 10 doubles and four home runs in his last 21 games. He hit his team-leading 10th homer Saturday.
It came against left-hander Robert Carson in the fifth and was his fourth off a lefty this season.
“It’s been getting pitches to hit and keeping it as simple as possible,” he said.
Doubles the fun
The Cubs had doubles from Alfonso Soriano, starter Scott Feldman and pinch hitter Ryan Sweeney on Saturday, giving the team 97 doubles this season. They are on pace to hit 371, which would exceed the club record of 340, set in 1931 and 2007.