Matt Garza ruled out for Opening Day and might not rejoin Cubs’ rotation until early May

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As first noted by Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs announced Sunday at their spring training complex in Mesa, Arizona that right-hander Matt Garza has been ruled out for Opening Day and probably won’t be ready until May due to lingering discomfort around his strained left lat muscle.

Garza suffered the lat injury on February 17 while tossing a live batting practice session to a group of minor league hitters and recently aggravated it while trying to restart his throwing program. He will be shut down for at least the next 5-7 days in Cubs camp.

Garza, 29, registered a 3.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 96/32 K/BB ratio across 103 2/3 innings last year before suffering a season-ending right elbow injury. The Cubs are expected to use him as trade bait this summer and will want him as healthy as possible around the July 31 deadline. So look for Garza to be treated with much more precaution moving forward.

Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood will open 2013 in Chicago’s starting rotation.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.