Cubs

Garza talks stolen ALCS ring, future with Cubs

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Garza talks stolen ALCS ring, future with Cubs

Matt Garza has remained in the headlines all winter. The trade rumors don't bother the Cubs pitcher, who's only 28 years old and already on his third team. He understands this is a business.

What stunned Garza was finding out that his 2008 American League championship ring was stolen from his California home in late January. The Fresno Bee reported that the diamond-studded ring was valued at 30,000 and engraved with his name. He earned it on the miracle Tampa Bay Rays team that went to the World Series one year after losing 96 games.

"Everything's still just kind of one big blur," Garza said over the phone. "Me and my wife went through the house and they really didn't take anything else of monetary value. (It) was more of the shock. That's kind of what got us just the sentimental value of those items that were taken. But we're just glad that no one got hurt and we're all safe. Those things can be replaced."

The Garza interview ran Tuesday on "Chicago Baseball Hot Stove." The day before, Garza spoke with CSNs Chuck Garfien while driving through California on the way to the Cubs complex in Arizona.

While the media constantly speculated about where he might be traded next, Garza had enjoyed spending most of the offseason with his family in the Chicago area. His mother had taken his grandparents by his Fresno County home when they discovered the break-in.

She walked around the backyard before going inside, Garza said, just to see how the landscapers have been doing and stuff like that, just checking out my house. And she noticed the back bay window was shattered. So they went through the front door (and) saw an attic open and she called the cops."

Garza developed into a first-round pick at Fresno State University and grew up in the area. He said he doesnt know whos responsible for the burglary.

I don't want to accuse anybody of anything, Garza said. It's just not the thing to do. You (make) one accusation and it just snowballs, so that can never be a good thing. I trust that neighbors (would) do what all neighbors do, and that's report (whatever they see). Neighbors have told me (before and) watched over my home. They're very (trustworthy) people.

"It's not like (the ring is) just going to pop up. I hope it would, that would be awesome. But they're doing their police work and (asking) questions. We've gone over many things, all the situations and scenarios.

Last week, Garza avoided an arbitration hearing and agreed to a one-year, 9.5 million deal, plus performance bonuses. He will also remain under club control for the 2013 season.

Theo Epstein has described Garza as exactly the type of pitcher youd like to build around, and mentioned the possibility of a contract extension, though its unclear just how far those talks progressed.

The Cubs president of baseball operations also has a five- to 10-year plan that might not exactly match Garzas timeline. Epstein once watched Garza eliminate the Boston Red Sox and win the 2008 ALCS MVP award. A proven playoff pitcher would be an attractive chip at the trade deadline this summer.

Does he want to be here long-term?

"Yeah, why not? Garza said. It's a great organization to play for, with a lot of history, a lot of tradition and there's great support from up top. What more can you ask for in an organization?

Everybody who comes to Chicago knows about the city. It's amazing. It's so diverse. There's so much you can teach (your kids here). The fans are some of the greatest. They're true diehard fans. To be a fan of a team that hasn't won in (103) years you can't say (much more than that). They're the most loyal fans in baseball.

Garza will likely begin the season in a Cubs uniform, on a team with almost no expectations, but its unclear where it will all end. A big-game pitcher has already been part of a team that shocked the world.

"There's a lot of excitement and buzz, Garza said. There (are) a lot of hungry, hungry, hungry young guys who want to show what they can do. And like I said back in January (at the Cubs Convention), with young kids a lot of things (can) happen. It's going to be a lot of fun to be down there and get things going.

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

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USA TODAY

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

Is Cubs manager Joe Maddon taking the heat and covering for Wade Davis while the All-Star closer deals with atypical soreness in his right arm?

“No, no,” Maddon said Tuesday when asked if Davis felt anything unusual that lingered into the National League Championship Series after last week’s all-out effort eliminated the Washington Nationals from the divisional round.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven bullpen battle without Davis throwing a single pitch, the backlash from Cubs fans, Twitter and the national media again putting Maddon on the defensive, the year after he got second-guessed for pushing Aroldis Chapman so hard during the World Series.

This NLCS truly is a bizarro world, with Maddon comparing the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax, getting so little benefit of the doubt – the Cubs really did beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 – and working the baseball term “dry-hump” into one answer during Monday’s Wrigley Field press conference.

Maddon said he would have to check first with Davis – who would have almost five full days in between relief appearances – if the Cubs need a four- or five-out save in Game 3.

“Nevertheless, I always check,” Maddon said. “I can’t just assume that.”

Maddon’s Game 2 calculus on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium – sticking with lefty reliever Brian Duensing in a 1-1 game to start the ninth inning and then bringing in John Lackey to serve up the walk-off, three-run homer to Justin Turner – made you wonder if Davis was still dragging after ending Washington’s season and traveling on the overnight cross-country flight that got diverted to New Mexico for about five hours when Jose Quintana’s wife experienced a panic attack.

“I think he just got mentally exhausted,” Maddon said. “Physically, 44 pitches, he hasn’t done that in a while. But also the seven outs and what it meant and the plane ride itself, sitting on the tarmac, there was a lot of non-rest going on right there, so it was harder to recover.

“So, no, he was fine for the last game, but we set up the parameters before the game.”

Maddon is sticking with his story, that he would only deploy Davis in a save situation and not use him for one out against Turner (1.115 career postseason OPS) or have him totally warm up without the guarantee of getting him into the game.

“To put Wade in that position would be wrong on my part,” Maddon said. “We had already talked about the circumstances, so my loyalty there lies with Wade, or my decision-making lies with Wade, nobody else.

“That was a heavy day for him (in Washington). Going into the last game in L.A., like I talked about, we talked about one inning only, and not to get up and not put him in the game.

“If you get him up and sit him down, then you have no idea what it’s going to look like. My responsibility is to him, also, and to the players, so I told him that before the game, so I had to stick with our decision.”

Before finalizing the Jorge Soler trade at the winter meetings, the Kansas City Royals took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to meet with Davis at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley and go through a physical exam. The Cubs wanted reassurances after Davis spent parts of last season on the disabled list with a forearm strain and a flexor strain.

The Cubs wondered if “dry-humping” had contributed to those injuries, and tried to stay conservative with Davis during his free-agent year, watching him convert his first 32 save chances and using him for three-plus outs only three times during the regular season, all in mid-to-late September.

“If you look at the numbers this year, I thought going into the playoffs his usage has been really good,” Maddon said. “Minimal, in a sense. We didn’t get him up hardly at all where we didn’t utilize him.

“He just wasn’t set up for it the other day. So honestly, I think he’s in really good shape right now, actually. I don’t think he could have gone those seven outs the other day if he had been overly dried up during the course of the season. He felt good. But that was above and beyond, and that wasn’t part of the game plan the other night.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

Sports Talk Live is on location at the Brickhouse Tavern at Wrigley Field to get you set for Game 3 of the NLCS. David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Jesse Rogers (ESPNChicago.com) and Bob Nightengale (USA Today) join Kap on the panel. 

Plus, Ben Zobrist and Curtis Granderson drop by to talk about the big matchup.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: