- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Given the opportunity Wednesday to say he would like to be a part of the Chicago Cubs’ rebuilding process, pitcher Matt Garza seemed to take a pass.
He didn’t say he wanted to be moved by next month’s nonwaiver trade deadline, but he didn’t say he wanted to stay either.
Would Garza like to see this through?
“I just want to play,” he said moments after taking a loss in an 8-4 defeat to the Detroit Tigers that left him 2-5 and winless since April 29. “It’s not my choice. If they want to keep me here, then I will keep playing and go out there every five days and do what I’m set to do, and that’s get as many outs as possible and keep my team in the ballgame.”
While Garza has been talked about as a piece the Cubs would like to rebuild around and have him atop the rotation with Jeff Samardzija, he also has trade value. With the Tampa Bay Rays, he pitched well against teams in his division, and clubs in the American League East are often mentioned as a landing spot.
Despite not winning any of his last seven starts, he has pitched well in many of them. He even appeared to be in control against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, before an error on an easy double-play grounder to third baseman Joe Mather opened the door for a four-run sixth inning.
The runs gave the Tigers the lead for good. The miscue appeared to rattle Garza, but he said he stayed focused throughout. He gave up five runs (three earned) on seven hits over six innings.
“You just keep making your pitches,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is to get [angry] and the next thing you know you’re leaving four pitches over the middle of the plate and it’s a way different ballgame. I felt I made my pitches and they just got enough of them.”
Garza has played with better talent, pitching in a World Series with the Rays, and it’s clear that this team won’t be ready to reach that level for a few seasons at least. A trade would give him a better shot at winning.
But if his desire is to be able to land with a contender soon, he wasn’t saying that either.
“I love the city, my kids love the city, and it would be a great place for them to grow up,” Garza said. “But like I said, it’s out of my control. I’ll just keep going out there every five days and keep plugging away.”
Saying that he just wants to play isn’t a new mantra for Garza. He was using the same language this offseason, as well. In 2011, he left a number of games with a lead only to watch the bullpen let his chance at victory slip away.
“It doesn’t matter to me, I just want to play,” he said again. “When they tell me I can’t play anymore, that will be the worst day of my life. I just want to keep playing, it doesn’t matter where. I’ll pitch on the freaking moon. I just want to keep playing. As long as people keep asking for me, I’ve done a good job. When they stop asking, then it’s time to worry.”
Asked if he wants to remain with the Cubs, Garza says only that he wants to play.