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Deep Cubs rotation can cover for Garza

The SportsXchange

The Chicago Cubs certainly didn't want to be putting together the words "Matt Garza" and "MRI" in the same sentence this spring.

However, they had no choice after Garza felt pain in his left side during a session of live batting practice. The Cubs were feeling fortunate on two counts, though: Garza's right elbow remains fine, and the MRI turned up only a mild lat strain, which should keep the ace right-hander out for about a week.

That pushes back Garza's Cactus League debut.

"What it means for the regular season, it's clearly much too early to say," said general manager Jed Hoyer, who termed the MRI results "really good news."

The Cubs said Garza suffered the strain "where the lat meets the oblique." Garza's 2012 season ended in July when he suffered a stress reaction in his pitching elbow.

"My elbow was fine, everything on my right side was fine," Garza said. "I'm not going to push it if I don't have to. I've done everything you could ask, so it's just patience. I've got to sit back and let things heal now, I guess."

Garza and right-hander Scott Baker are the two big injury concerns for the Cubs this spring. Baker had Tommy John surgery last April, and he's likely not going to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Baker signed as a free agent early in the offseason, and the Cubs also brought in righties Scott Feldman and Edwin Jackson as free agents to join a rotation that now has right-hander Jeff Samardzija at the top. Feldman has been named by manager Dale Sveum as one of the starting pitchers.

If somebody can't go, left-hander Travis Wood is waiting in the wings.

"I'm just going to go do what I've got to do, and then it's up to them," Wood said. "I'll just pitch as well as I can and see what happens."

The Cubs also signed veteran right-hander Carlos Villanueva. He figures to be a swing man, but he's also insurance in case somebody in the rotation isn't physically able to pitch.
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