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Garza, Cubs pitchers wont back down inside

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Garza, Cubs pitchers wont back down inside

GLENDALE, Ariz. Matt Garza likes to view this as a heavyweight prize fight. He says hell be ready when the ball rings, and promises to come out swinging.

The Cubs pitcher shrugged off Sundays 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Working on fastballs and changeups, he got four outs and gave up four runs. He walked two batters and hit another.

One year later, the curiosity factor is gone how Garza would adjust to a new team, a bigger market and the weight of expectations after a blockbuster trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Garzas idea of a comfort level is everyone else getting used to him.

Whats coming into view is that Garza seems to be a match with Dale Sveum, a manager who rides motorcycles and has tattoos, and Chris Bosio, a self-described old-school pitching coach who played for and worked with Lou Piniella. The Cubs are going to throw inside and make the opponent uncomfortable.

Thats how I made my living, Garza said. I dont shy away from the inside part of the plate. Hitters dont like it a lot of them will try to take it away. (Chase) Utleys notorious for leaning over. Theyre going to try to take advantage, so why not get my 17 inches back?

If you got to knock a couple guys down, do what you got to do, then so be it. But Im entitled to 17 inches. Thats part of the game. If you cant pitch inside, then youre going to get a hitter dead red (sitting fastball) the entire game, and its kind of an unfair advantage, huh?

This was roughly 24 hours after Ryan Dempster threw his first pitch over the head of ex-teammate Aramis Ramirez. Dempster and Sveum both said it was an accident, not a message sent to the Milwaukee Brewers. Ramirez got a friendly, respectful tap from catcher Geovany Soto before he stepped into the box.

That one got away, Sveum said, but Dempsters very good at pitching up and in and down and away. Thats his forte. Hes kind of old-school.That was probably a little higher and tighter than we wanted, but thats just the way he pitches.

If he throws 10 pitches, two of them are going to be up and in (and) not too many people can pitch with elevation like he does. (He) understands (getting) foul balls and pop-ups (that way). Its a vital part of pitching now.

You pitch good hitters in, bad hitters away. Thats just the way the games been for a hundred years.

Sveum likes to say that The Cubs Way is not reinventing the wheel. Its drilling fundamentals into the players. Sveum is blunt and to the point and expects his team to take on his personality. If hitters are getting in the way, they could be ducking out of the box.

Thats one of the key things we want (to) control the tempo, Garza said. Thats controlling the pitching game, controlling the running game, controlling the offense, controlling things we can control. Ive been pitching inside ever since I can remember, so thats kind of my style.

Training Camp Daily: Defense still “picking” on Bears QB’s in rainy practices

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Defense still “picking” on Bears QB’s in rainy practices

Training Camp Daily: The Bears put the pads on for Sunday's practice on another wet day in Bourbonnais. Bears insider John 'Moon' Mullin & producer Paul Aspan discuss Mitchell Trubisky's accuracy, which continues to be a work in progress. Plus Anthony Miller & Kevin White turn heads, while Aaron Lynch suffers yet another injury setback when the Bears are already thin at pass rusher. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

With trade deadline approaching, Cubs know they can't rely on Yu Darvish

With trade deadline approaching, Cubs know they can't rely on Yu Darvish

Sunday began like most days have around the Cubs recently: No update on Yu Darvish.

But while the skies opened up over Wrigley Field about 90 minutes before game time, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein sat in the third-base dugout and spoke candidly about where Darvish is at currently and how much the Cubs can count on him during the stretch run.

Darvish threw from flat ground — 135 feet — Sunday morning and Epstein said it was "his best day in a long time. He threw really well and felt really good."

Still, there is no specific timetable for when Darvish may be back on the Wrigley Field mound, facing live hitters in a game that matters.

The next step for Darvish will be throwing off a mound, but the Cubs aren't yet talking about where or when the 31-year-old pitcher will go on a rehab assignment.

With the non-waiver trade deadline approaching in just over a week, Epstein and the Cubs know they can't simply project Darvish into the September — or October — rotation.

"I think just making an educated guess," Epstein said. "You can't be overly reliant on somebody who hasn't been able to stay healthy and perform this year. At the same time, you track the rehab closely because you know you have to try to anticipate what he might be able to give you.

"...If you put yourself in a position where you're overly reliant on something that hasn't been dependable up to this point and then it doesn't come through, it's probably more on you than on the fates."

Darvish has accounted for only 40 innings for the Cubs this season and hasn't pitched since May 20. He made it through 5 innings just three times in his eight starts on the campaign.

This is the second DL stint for Darvish this season. He had a bout of the flu in early May and then initially went back on the shelf over Memorial Day Weekend with a triceps issue. The triceps strain has morphed into an elbow impingement after Darvish made a rehab start with Class-A South Bend and he received a cortisone shot in the elbow in late June.

Mike Montgomery has taken Darvish's place in the Cubs rotation and the southpaw has had a lot of success in the role with a 3.02 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 10 starts, averaging nearly 6 innings a start.

Of course, Montgomery's insertion into the rotation has left a bit of a hole in the bullpen as the Cubs have been without their top long man and down one reliable left-handed option.

The long relief role was filled last week with the trade for Jesse Chavez, but the Cubs could probably still use another lefty in the bullpen with Justin Wilson's control issues, Brian Duensing's struggles and Randy Rosario's relative inexperience and worrisome peripheral numbers.

Whether the Cubs will acquire another starting pitcher before the trade deadline is unknown. Epstein's front office knows they need more pitching and understands it's much harder to acquire arms after July 31 than before.

But with Montgomery already filling the last spot in the rotation, Drew Smyly on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery while being stretched out as a starter and now Chavez in town, the Cubs have some veteran starting pitching depth beyond the inexperienced Luke Farrell and Duane Underwood Jr.

The starting pitching market is relatively thin at the moment in terms of arms a team like the Cubs could acquire and plug into a potential playoff rotation. And that's saying nothing of the pieces it would require to pull off such a move, as the Cubs don't have the elite-level prospects they once had to acquire Aroldis Chapman and Jose Quintana the past two summers.

But with Darvish's status unknown and Tyler Chatwood currently boasting more walks than strikeouts through 18 starts, the Cubs aren't exactly sleeping easy at night trying to project their October rotation.

Epstein acknowledged the front office is focused primarily on pitching ahead of the deadline and though it may be tougher to make those big-name deals compared to years past, that doesn't necessarily take the Cubs out of the running on the impact guys.

Still, don't expect Jacob deGrom or Chris Archer to be walking through that door anytime soon.

"I think we're in a more difficult position to do so. I don't think it's impossible," Epstein said. "But certain years lend themselves to being able to participate in more hands. Other years, because of the way your prospects are performing or because of your desire to keep growing the farm system or just the nature of what's available and how much you need, you have to be more selective.

"I think we're hopefully pursuing a lot of different things, but I think in terms of what's realistic for us, we have to be a little bit more targeted, more selective and a little more opportunistic. And that's fine. Sometimes those end up being the best deals. The Chavez deal is an example of that. He's probably not a name anyone had mentioned at all. We think he's a really good fit for us.

"So that's [an example of] the kind of stuff we're looking to do. While participating in everything else, but knowing that most of the stuff we talked about we won't be able to get done."