Garza's Better Balls Win Battle of the Rehabbers

Matt Garza looked all tuned up and ready to go tonight at Principal Park as he tossed six scoreless innings that required only 75 pitches by my count. Maybe it was the balls. More on those later. He also fielded his one chance with the glove flawlessly.


Both of the hits Garza allowed, one of them a ringing single off the right-field wall, came in the 2nd, an inning that ended on a 4-6-3 double play. From that point until there were two down in the 6th he retired 12 straight before hitting the next to last batter he faced.


All told he fanned six, two looking; four trying, and walked no one. By innings his pitch counts were 13, 18, 11, 11, 14 and 8. Ten days ago he topped out at 94 in the velocity department. Tonight he hit 96 once and 95 several times. I found no fault in his performance but when he made his way out of the box toward 1st at a pace that can most charitably be described as pedestrian after swatting a routine grounder a rather tubby old guy not far from me in the stands really let him have it, loudly labeling him a “lollygagger.” No one else held that against him. When he made his way from the dugout to the clubhouse between the 6th and 7th innings most of the fans rose and applauded in appreciation of the work he was sent here to do as he passed by, tipping his cap and pausing to sign one autograph along the way.


Now, back to the balls. 


One of Garza’s 75 pitches was fouled over the roof into the parking lot. My vantage point and the ballpark’s design permitted me to track the ball and I noticed that no one went in pursuit of it. At inning’s end I dashed out and found it next to a motorcycle. When I picked it up I saw that it wasn’t a PCL ball; it was an official major leaguer. A couple frames later I located a man who’d stepped out for a smoke and retrieved another of Garza’s offerings that was fouled out of play. It too was a Bud Selig autographed model. Then, as I was leaving after Garza was through, another ball came bouncing along as I was getting into my car. A mother snagged it for her little boy and I asked them if I could have a look at it. Brooks Raley was now pitching in relief and, sure enough, this souvenir was the regular PCL equipment. Do you suppose it was by Garza’s request that MLB balls were furnished for him or were they ordered by higher authorities’? And since his mound opponent was fellow rehabber Clayton Richard, do you think the same courtesy was afforded him? 


Besides Garza, who left with a 1-0 lead by the way, the other aspect of the game I paid particular attention to were the at-bats of the now bearded Brett Jackson. All told, in the three I witnessed he saw 14 pitches and swung at 12 of them while striking out twice and flying to the warning track in center.


That is all...



MIKE: MLB rehab pitchers always get to use MLB baseballs when they pitch in a minor league game, even at Extended Spring Training. Healthy MLB pitchers use MLB baseballs when they pitch in a Minor League Spring Training game, too. You'll notice the home plate umpire changing out his baseballs every half-inning (unless two MLB pitchers are pitching against each other in the same minor league game).

However, MLB position players rehabbing in a minor league game or playing in a Minor League Spring Training game have to hit minor league baseballs.

The main difference between MLB baseballs and minor league baseballs is the threading of the seams. Not a lot of difference, but MLB pitchers can tell one from the other.

Why would you want the threading on the balls to be different?

then maybe the greater story is that when he pitched here on the 6th the balls he was using, at least in the 1st inning that day, were PCL's...otherwise, as that Gilda Radner character used to say on SNL, 'never mind...'

#2 Mark Appel

"Analysis: This is Appel or Gray, assuming one of them goes first, with Appel the preference. The Cubs are in the catbird seat in this draft -- they don't have to pay the premium that comes with picking first overall but are guaranteed to get one of the two huge arms in the class."

"Nick D. (Atlanta)- Barring injury, is there any chance the Cubs reach outside of Gray and Appel at #2?

Klaw - I believe there is zero chance of that."

Remember Albert Almora? The Cubs’ first-round pick last June is almost all the way back after breaking his hamate bone in mid-March. He’s been playing center field and hitting in extended spring games in Arizona and should soon be assigned to the low-A Kane County Cougars. There’s no sign yet of Junior Lake, who suffered a stress fracture to the top rib on his right side in mid-March. Outfielder Reggie Golden, a second-round pick in 2010 recovering from two torn ligaments in his left knee, appears close to completing his recovery. He has a slash line of .250/.438/.470 in extended spring, according to “Arizona Phil’’ of The Cub Reporter, who tracks these things.

wow...Arizona Phil's universe intersects with Wrong-way Phil Rogers!

per Roto...

The Cubs will wait to see how Matt Garza (lat) feels and how his bullpen session goes Saturday before they make a decision about activating him.
Garza declared himself ready to rejoin the Cubs' rotation after six scoreless innings during Thursday's rehab start. It's probably just a formality at this point before the team announces that he'll rejoin the rotation next week. Carlos Villanueva is the likeliest candidate to be demoted to the bullpen.

Baseball America Hot Sheet:
Christian Villaneuva, 3b, Cubs
Team: Double-A Tennessee (Southern)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .435/.500/.739 (10-for-23), 3 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1-for-2 SB

With Adrian Beltre on their big league roster and Mike Olt dominating in the upper levels of the minors last year, it made sense for the Rangers to include Villanueva in last summer’s trade to acquire Ryan Dempster. Villanueva got off to a sluggish start, but this past week has been better. He probably won’t see time in the big leagues this year, but he has a chance to be a contributor in Chicago by 2014.

Hot Sheet Chat:
Ryan (Chicago): Does Christian Villaneuva have enough power to be an everyday 3rd baseman in the Bigs?

Matt Eddy: That will be the determining factor. Scouts see Villanueva as being right on the borderline now between first- and second-division in the HR department. His glove will allow him ample time to develop his power approach at Triple-A if that’s what stands in his way of playing in the bigs.

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).