Garza's game plan goes awry

March, 9, 2011
Levine By Bruce Levine

It certainly wasn’t anything like Newton's theory of relativity, however, Matt Garza did have a game plan -- to throw fastballs and changeups -- coming into his third spring training start. After walking three Royals in the first five hitters, Garza had to change that plan.

[+] EnlargeMatt Garza
Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesMatt Garza gave up six runs in Wednesday's loss.
“It’s not what I wanted,” Garza said. “But this is a game of adjustments. I had to end up throwing my breaking ball today. It looked good.”

The new Cub was having trouble locating his fastball and was working at too quick of a pace, according to first baseman Carlos Pena.

What advice to Pena give Garza?

“Just try to slow down,” Graza said. “He knew I was trying a few things, but he said, slow down. Slow down. You know you got this thing before. That’s when I had to step, take a deep breath and analyze what I can and can’t do. It was a tough situation but a good learning process today. Next time it will be sooner rather than later.”

In past springs, Garza tried to build up arm strength and location with his fastball and changeup before refining his breaking pitches. However, Garza’s command wasn’t there in the first inning.

“You can’t throw them out,” Garza said. “These are the best outings to learn from. I could have gone four innings with a shut out but what would I learn from that? Today I figured out what I got in my own way. I was being stubborn, and I wanted to stick to my game plan. I knew what I wanted to do but things had to change.”

Not only is Garza having to adjust his pitches, but he’s also adjusting to new teammates and a new pitching coach.

Garza was asked about his relationship with pitching coach Mark Riggins.

“It’s still a learning curve,” Garza said. “Three starts in he’s not going to be able to break you down. It’s going to take a couple of months. Right now, we are just feeling each other out. I’m more open and like to talk and get his opinion. He knows that so he’s open to that all the time. It’s awesome.”

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.



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