Garza Inching Closer to a Return and Other Cubs Notes

Matt Garza is getting close to returning to the Cubs’ rotation. Garza will make his third rehab start on Saturday afternoon with Double-A Tennessee. According to reports from the Smokies, Garza is scheduled to pitch four-five innings or 75 pitches when Tennessee hosts the Birmingham Bees (5:15pm CDT).

Garza has completed two rehab starts plus a two-inning simulated game in Milwaukee last month. Garza threw 54 pitches, 37 for strikes, over 3 1/3 innings last Monday with the Iowa Cubs and was very sharp. Garza was charged with one run on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks … the one run scored after he left the game. Garza had very good command, and was consistently in the low-mid 90s with his fastball (92-94 mph), threw a breaking ball and a changeup.

Garza was very happy after his last start and was pumped when he spoke with Dale Sveum after his outing.

Jed Hoyer is on record saying the team would like Garza to build up to around the 100-pitch mark before he is activated from the DL. Hoyer said there is no timetable for Garza’s return but if Garza is increasing his pitch count by 25 per outing, if all goes well on Saturday, Garza would figure to need one more rehab outing before joining the Cubs rotation. And that could potentially put Garza back in the Cubs’ rotation in 10 days, or at some point during the Cubs trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati before Memorial Day (May 21-May 26).

Kyuji Fujikawa

The Cubs activated Kyuji Fujikawa from the DL on Friday and he pitched a scoreless inning in Friday’s loss to the Nationals. Fujikawa struck out a batter and ended up facing the minimum after Ryan Zimmerman was called out trying to stretch a single into a double (replays showed Zimmerman was safe). Fujikawa looked good in his first big league action since April 12. Fujikawa had good life on his fastball and ran it up to 94 mph.

Dale Sveum said prior to the game, the Cubs plan on easing him back into his eighth inning role.

News and Notes

Gordon Wittenmyer caught up with Dan Haren and spoke with him about the trade that nearly landed him in Chicago. The Cubs reportedly turned away from the trade that would have sent Carlos Marmol to the Angels for Haren in November after taking a closer look at Haren’s medicals. The Angels were willing to only pay $3.5 million, which was the buyout on Haren’s $15.5 million contract for this season at the time. Haren told Wittenmyer that he knew if he ended up with the Cubs and had a good four months that he would be flipped at the trading deadline.

The same report from Wittenmyer pointed out at least half-dozen scouts say there is not a team that will be willing to trade for Carlos Marmol in July even if he is pitching effectively by then, no matter how much money the Cubs are willing to include in a deal.

As the roster is currently constructed it appears Starlin Castro will hit leadoff when the Cubs face a southpaw. Sveum plans on using Ryan Sweeney against left-handers and told the Sun-Times that Julio Borbon might receive a couple of start against lefties as well.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt