- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Starting pitcher Matt Garza and his pregame pitching superstition are now a part of present and future Cubs lore, as Chicago completed an eight-player deal on Saturday that brings Garza, outfielder Fernando Perez and left-handed pitcher Zach Rosscup to the Cubs for five minor-leaguers, including top ranked pitcher Chris Archer and shortstop Ju-Hak Lee.
Garza, who arrived in Chicago on Friday for his physical, said he is anxious to start his Cubs career.
“I’m just happy to be a part of this long tradition,” Garza said. “I’ll just try to get this thing turned around in a good direction. We’ve got a lot of the pieces to the puzzle right there in Chicago, ready to do it.”
Garza has a long tradition of having a pregame meal of Popeye’s chicken before his starts.
“I found one near the park," Garza said.
Asked if he had any other superstitions, Garza said, “Nothing huge, nothing out of the ordinary. I’ll just be myself and get ready to toe it up. That’s me. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who worked for 30 straight days, except for Christmas and New Year’s, with Tampa’s top baseball man, Andrew Friedman, to complete the deal, wanted to acquire power pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen, as well as a left-handed slugger, to improve his team this offseason.
“We left the organization meetings, and that was our plan,” Hendry said. “That was going to be our attempt and sometimes you don’t know how it’s going to work out. You don’t always pull off things the way you want to. Sometimes the names change. But I will tell you that Matt Garza was a guy we targeted. I didn’t know if we could do it, but that was the one [trade] that made the most sense for us.”
The rest of Hendry’s offseason will be centered around fine-tuning the bench, and other organizational needs.
“This last week or so has been kind of a consuming effort,” Hendry said. “We’re going to regroup and see where we’re at and re-factor everything. We’re not opposed to trying to do some other things.
Hendry’s next task will be to deal with his five arbitration-eligibile players. That list includes Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill and Tom Gorzelanny. It’s possible a couple of those players may get long-term contracts.
Gorzelanny, the only left-hander vying for the fourth and fifth spots in the Cubs rotation, may find his situation in limbo, due to the fact that Carlos Silva, Andrew Cashner, Randy Wells and Jeff Samardzija and Casey Coleman will all battle for those spots, too.
Numerous teams have called with interest in Gorzelanny over the past six weeks, according to a major league source.
Pitcher Matt Garza brings his strong arm, pregame ritual, to Chicago.