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.