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.