Garza a Longshot for Opening Series, Castro’s Return Delayed and Other Cubs News Bits

The Cubs began the second week of their Cactus League schedule on Saturday with a 9-7 loss to the Giants, but before the game Dale Sveum provided updates on several of the players dealing with injuries.

Matt Garza threw from flat ground for the second time in three days on Saturday. Sveum said Garza felt fine afterwards but admitted that Garza being ready to pitch during the opening series in Pittsburgh is “probably a longshot.”

Starlin Castro was expected back in the lineup on Monday, but his return has been delayed. An MRI on Castro’s left hamstring revealed some inflammation. Sveum mentioned that Castro is not feeling any affects from the injury, and Castro took batting practice on Saturday. The Cubs are planning on holding him out of spring games for three-four more days (Tuesday or Wednesday) … but one report has Castro missing a week.

Ian Stewart

Dale Sveum discussed Ian Stewart’s status on Saturday … and it does not sound like Stewart will be back in the lineup for quite a while.

Stewart is not recovering from his strained quad as quickly as anticipated. Reports on Thursday indicated that Stewart would be swinging a bat within a week and could play in games within two weeks. Dale Sveum did not sound as positive and said Saturday that Stewart would not play in a game until mid-March, at the earliest, now.

The Cubs have a decision to make with Ian Stewart. Stewart signed a non-guaranteed $2 million contract in the off-season. The Cubs can cut ties with Stewart prior to Opening Day without being on the hook for the entire contract, the same as any arbitration eligible player.

The first deadline for Ian Stewart is March 16. If the Cubs cut him by March 16, they owe Stewart 1/6 of his contract or $333,000. If the Cubs decide they want to see him play before making a decision, they can cut him prior to Opening Day and it would cost them 1/4 of his contract, or $500,000.

Gordon Wittenmyer caught up with Stewart on Saturday, and he didn’t seem worried about the possibility of having to pull off a two-week rampage in order to make the roster. Stewart told Wittenmyer that he figured he would have to play a lot this spring anyway, and feels like he will have time to make the team.

Wittenmyer pointed out that Stewart “has a little compensating to do this spring to overcome the perception that he was too willing to spend the rest of the season at home once he got permission to leave the team to be with his pregnant wife following midseason wrist surgery.” Wittenmyer also reported not to “discount the potential incentive for sending a message to the rest of a mostly young team and expectations and accountability in their efforts to supposedly change the culture of the team.”

Cubs News Bits

Scott Baker threw live BP on Friday and reportedly everything went well. Baker is scheduled to throw one more live BP and if that session goes well the next step in his rehab process would be a simulated game. If Baker continues to progress, he could pitch in a Cactus League game in the near future.

Matt Garza with have another long-toss session on Monday. The Cubs think Matt Garza will need five Cactus League starts in order to be ready for the regular season.

Carlos Villanueva explained why he signed with the Cubs.

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