Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Cubs right-hander Matt Garza tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday in his second minor league rehab start with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. It was his third rehab start overall.
Garza was scheduled to throw between four and five innings on Saturday, but two walks ballooned his pitch count early and he was pulled after his 66th delivery of the evening. He allowed three hits but racked up two strikeouts against the Birmingham Barons — the Double-A affiliate of the White Sox.
Garza will head to Triple-A Iowa next for two more rehab outings. The struggling Cubs are probably tempted to bring him back a little early, but he is going to be their best trade chip at the July 31 deadline so it’s better that he’s fully healthy.
The 29-year-old right-hander has been out all season because of a lat strain. He has a 3.52 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 8.7 K/9 in 301 2/3 innings (49 starts) since being traded to Chicago in January 2011.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉