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McKnight: Matt Garza Turns In Solid Start, Teaches Youngsters

Matt Garza

Matt Garza (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Christian Petersen)

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By Connor McKnight

MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Cubs starter Matt Garza was much better in his third start than his first two.  Garza threw three innings and gave up two earned on three hits and a walk.  He struck out three and, most importantly, said it’s all going to plan.

“I felt good,” Garza said after his outing. “I pulled out all my stuff today.  Obviously, it makes it a lot easier when I need a weapon to go to besides fastball/change-up.  I still threw a lot of change-ups, still incorporated my fastball command.  I’m still working on stuff.  I had to fix some stuff from my last outing and I’m happy that we made progress, but I’m still not done.”

So while Garza feels confident in his progress so far this spring, what might be more notable and more important is that he feels comfortable, too.

“I like playing ball,” Garza said. “When you can play ball in a comfortable environment, it’s a lot better than when it’s a little tense and a little uneasy.  Making people comfortable — you’re going to bring out the best in people.”

When asked about the reason he feels so comfortable, Garza attributed it to it being his second year with the club.

“I’m a lot more comfortable than coming in last year — being the new guy,” Garza said.  “I know what it’s like.  That’s all I’m saying.  For me, my comfortability is a lot higher than it was last time.”

Garza’s “comfortability” shows in his actions with other teammates, too.

I asked [LHP Jeff] Beliveau the other day. I said, ‘Do you know Aoki?’ I think it was [Norichika] Aoki from the Brewers. He said, ‘Not really.’  I said, ‘Then what the hell are you sitting back here [on the bench] for?’  I said, ‘If you get up here, that’s who you’re facing–the lefty.  So you get up there and just focus on what you’re going to help us out doing.'”

Cubs Major League Injuries Prove Minor

For really the first time in spring, the Cubs picked up some bruises to their top flight players.  Darwin Barney was scratched from his start against the Diamondbacks yesterday.  In the game against the Rockies, Ian Stewart pulled up with a quad injury while Blake DeWitt was hit on the hand with a pitch.

“Everything is a little bit day-to-day,” Cubs Manager Dale Sveum said.  “Nothing, knock on wood, has been major so far.  So, everything’s just day-to-day so we’ve been pretty lucky this spring.”

Cubs Pick Up De La Cruz

The Cubs also claimed Eulogio “Frankie” De La Cruz off waivers from the Brewers Friday morning.  De La Cruz, a 5’10” 27-year old right hander from the Dominican Republic, began his career as a free agent signee with the Tigers.  He was included in the deal that brought Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit.  In 2009, he was released from the Padres and signed with the Brewers in January of 2011.

In 11 games with the Brewers last season, he threw 13 innings and held a 2.77 ERA with a 1.154 WHIP.

At one time, De La Cruz had a fastball clocked up and around 100 MPH.  He’ll be added to the Cubs 40-Man Roster and the team hopes to have him in camp by Saturday.

Bunting Tournament Champion

David DeJesus won the Cubs inaugural bunting tournament Friday morning.  DeJesus took out Wellington Castillo in the semi-finals and took out Casey Coleman (who beat Paul Maholm in his semi-final match) to take the crown.

For more Cubs spring training coverage from Mesa, Ariz, click here. Find all of Connor McKnights’s spring training blogs here and follow him on Twitter (@McKnight670).