MLB

Samardzija to start Cubs' opener

Matt Garza
Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza is ticketed to open the season on the disabled list.
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MESA, Ariz. (AP)

Matt Garza will start the season on the disabled list because of an injured muscle in his side that is preventing the right-hander from throwing, and Jeff Samardzija will be the Opening Day starter for the Chicago Cubs.

Garza's batting-practice session was cut short on Feb. 17 because of the injured latissimus dorsi muscle. He rested 10 days and was in the second day of a throwing program on flat ground when he felt more tightness Saturday. He won't throw for the next week.

''I don't sit back and let things happen. I make them happen and keep pushing and going,'' Garza said Sunday.

''Now we know it is just time. The recovery rate I was on, everything felt great. It's the body's way of saying it is going to take a little more time. It's not a setback, more like I've come to the realization you can't out-mind your body.''

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza will get two spring-training starts at most and will miss the first two weeks to a month of the season.

Samardzija will start at Pittsburgh on April 1. He was 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA last season. He had a 2.39 ERA in his last seven starts of 2012.

''He is a guy the players rally around because of his bulldog mentality when he is one the mound,'' Sveum said. ''It is a very obvious choice, really.''

Samardzija will be joined in the rotation by Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva, Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman.

A former star wide receiver at Notre Dame, Samardzija made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2008 but spent much of the next two seasons in the minors.

''I went through some humbling baseball experience in `09 and `10. It put a lot of things in perspective,'' Samardzija said. ''I'm excited. The best thing as an athlete is to see all your hard work lead to positive gains from it. You get some taste of success and you want to keep that rolling. That's where I am right now.''

Tagged: Cubs, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija

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