- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Garza has known for some time that an extension to stay with the team was not going to happen. With that in mind, the already twice-traded veteran pitcher has helped set a standard for his less experienced teammates.
“It has been very impressive the way he has handled it,” Carlos Villanueva said. “Last year I went through something like that with my free agency being there for the first time. It all started in August. I will be honest with you, by the end of year I was more mentally drained than physically. It did not affect me initially, but it did at the end.”
Garza is in the last year of his arbitration cycle and can opt for free agency in November. Major League teams that are interested in trading for him also are considering the of signing Garza to a long-term deal. Coming into play will be his future demands (likely 4-5 years at $16 million plus) and his recent injury history.
Regardless of all of the intangibles, Garza is by far the best pitcher out there in the market place.
“He is a very tough man mentally and physically,” Villanueva said. “He has been an example for not only the young guys but older guys, too, that might go through that again in their careers or haven’t gone through it. It is not easy, but when the same questions come every day it doesn’t make it fun.”
The coaching staff has also watched Garza continue to work hard and stay loose through these difficult days. Garza is scheduled to pitch Monday in Arizona. On Friday it appeared he was close to being traded to Texas, but medicals of one or more of the players involved caused the deal to go backwards. For now the Cubs will continue to support their teammate through these uneasy times.
“It is not an easy situation to be in,” Jeff Samardzija said. “It is especially tough when you have five or six kids like he has. You are dealing with a family too, so he knows if something happens you have to uproot your family and move on. The way he comes here every day and works hard and does his work for the team speaks volumes about the guy.”
Other teammates who were on the Cubs last July, when five veterans were traded, are more understanding of the business of baseball this time around.
“It is always tough saying goodbye to teammates,” Darwin Barney said. “There is no doubt in my mind that it will happen again for some people in here. Whether it is Garza or someone else, it is always hard. It is part of the game. I understand now that you are not saying goodbye forever. He still has a job and he will still do his thing. In the meantime he continues to do his job and take care of business.”