Cubs

No retreat: Garza won't back down after loss

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No retreat: Garza won't back down after loss

Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted: 10:08 p.m. Updated: 11:57 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

DENVER The anger and the defiance had disappeared by the time Matt Garza stood up in front of his locker. His voice was steady and measured as he looked from here to the end of September.

Its gonna turn I know it is, Garza said late Friday night. I know its a long season. (I have to) keep going out there, keep throwing, keep battling. Thats all I can do. I cant look for some secret answer.

Garzas heart and his fast-twitch muscles urge him to be a power pitcher. Its part of his identity. The Cubs want him to improve his soft game and find a way to finesse hitters, without robbing him of the aggressiveness that made him so successful in the past.

Everyone might have found a balance at Coors Field, but Garza was sabotaged by one bad inning in a 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 30,285 fans.

The 11-2 Rockies baseballs first team to reach double-digit victories are on a seven-game winning streak. For the Cubs (6-7) to get on a roll like that, they will need their frontline pitchers to play up to expectations.

Garza didnt back down and felt like he mixed around his 119 pitches well, but at this point their big offseason get is 0-2 with a 6.27 ERA.

He just keeps competing, manager Mike Quade said. As long as hes making pitches with that mindset hell be fine. It hasnt been a great start for him and he knows that. But hes still working and I still believe hes going to a hell of a pitcher (in) this rotation.

Garza will need to learn the National Leagues hitters, and adjust to playing in a new city and a bigger market, but insists that will not faze him. Whats overlooked in the trade from Tampa Bay is that Garza went from one of the games best defensive teams in 2010 to one of its worst.

This game pivoted with the bases loaded in the second inning. Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta launched an 86 mph slider that soared over Marlon Byrds head and just beyond his glove in center.

Catch-22, Byrd said. You want to play deep, but at the same time (if) he hits a ground ball up the middle, I dont throw the guy out and two runs score. (I) just want to get a better jump next time.

Byrd was playing shallow, and his teammates think of him as a Gold Glove outfielder for the angles he takes and the reads he makes. Starlin Castro took Byrds relay throw and didnt seem to gather himself.

Castro fired toward third base to try to get Iannetta, but the ball sailed into the dugout as the Cubs fell behind 4-0 on a bases-clearing triple.

Garza didnt give in and look for an easy out, which is why the Cubs arent worried. He left after six innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. Its not all on him.

The Cubs offense didnt get any sort of bounce playing at Coors Field. In the three games Garza has started, the Cubs have scored four runs combined, and zero in his last two outings.

Hes a bulldog, Byrd said. He goes out there and gives us a chance. He kept us in the game and thats where the offense needs to come through and have his back. (We) need to step up for him.

Garza didnt blame his offense or his defense. He gave no excuses about the thin mountain air. He looked inward.

Its frustrating, but you just got to stay positive and keep working (and) know that grind is going to pay off, Garza said. Ive been through droughts like this. Keep going right at it head-first, thats about all I can do.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester is the best free agent addition in Cubs history, the guy who joined a last place club and helped push them to perennial contender status. He played a big part in the Cubs snapping their World Series drought, and even at 36 remains a durable, competitive starter.

Here’s a few things you may not know about the Cubs’ left-hander.

1. While playing in a soccer tournament in Italy at the age of 13, an Italian club approached Lester about playing professionally. He turned it down and the Red Sox drafted him five years later.

2. In August 2006, two months after making his MLB debut, Lester was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy in the 2006-07 offseason and returned to the Red Sox in July 2007.

3. Lester’s charity, NVRQT, works to raise awareness and funds to fight pediatric cancer. Lester was the Cubs’ 2019 Robert Clemente Award nominee for his charitable efforts.

4. In 2011, Lester was featured on a wine label produced by Longball Cellars. Proceeds from “CabernAce” benefited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

5. Lester, an avid golfer, once shot an 81 at Augusta National, according to Golf Digest.

Anthony Rizzo has no regrets over signing bargain extension in 2013

Anthony Rizzo has no regrets over signing bargain extension in 2013

Back in 2013, the Cubs locked up a 23-year-old Anthony Rizzo on a seven-year, $41 million extension — with two options that could make it nine years for $74 million.

Rizzo is a cancer survivor, and gaining financial stability was a big thing for him. Seven years later, the deal is one of the best in baseball from a team perspective, but incredibly below market value overall.

However, the big first baseman, who’s emerged as a cornerstone for the Cubs, has no regrets over his decision.

“I’ve had the freedom from 22, 23 years old to financially do whatever I want and play freely,” Rizzo told NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer. “And I’m going to be able to do financially whatever I want for the rest of my life as long as I don’t make poor choices.

“At the end of this contract, it’ll make a lot of money, and I’m playing the game I love.”

The Cubs shut down extension talks with Rizzo over the winter, and he said it never got to the point of discussing any numbers. He has “no idea” what the Cubs’ thinking was on shutting down those talks, too.

The two sides will likely talk extension again in the future, but until then, the Cubs have Rizzo on an absolute bargain of a deal.

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