Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija were supposed to compete for the Chicago Cubs‘ Opening Day 2013 start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Apr. 1. Samardzija will automatically win that honor after the team announced that Garza will start the season on the disabled list. He could miss all of April because of reoccurring pain in his left side.
Garza is the second starting pitcher who’ll start the season on the disabled list. Scott Baker is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He won’t return until mid-April. These injuries will force Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva into the No. 4 and No. 5 slots of the starting rotation.
This is the second time that Garza has suffered what was initially believed as a minor injury. One missed start becomes a couple weeks. A couple weeks becomes several months. Several months later, Garza suffered a brand new injury that’s unrelated to the stress reaction in his elbow.
Does this make Garza an injury-prone pitcher? He hasn’t pitched since July 21, 2012. From 2008-11, Garza started at least 30 games in each of those seasons.
Fans who wanted a midseason trade may have hope. Even if Garza returns at the beginning of May, he has approximately three months to show that he can stay healthy. While the Cubs won’t get as much as they would’ve if Garza hadn’t kept getting injured and had one year left on his contract, he should still have trade value if he can pitch well.
If Garza can pitch well. That’s a huge if. At this point, I’m just hoping he doesn’t tweak anything during his recovery. How long will it take before he rediscovers his pitching groove is anyone’s guess.