Cubs' Matt Garza on schedule

CHICAGO -- Four months after an injury ended his season prematurely, Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza was cleared Thursday to resume his normal offseason routine.

Technically, it doesn't mean Garza will resume a throwing program immediately. Pitchers typically do not begin their offseason throwing programs in the middle of November. But he is now clear to resume his strength and conditioning routine with no restrictions.

In theory, Garza will be able to resume his winter throwing program on schedule as he normally does.

"I'm cleared for takeoff!! Strap it on tight cause we are going on one helluva ride," Garza tweeted Thursday morning.

The right-hander, who was expected to be dealt last season before his untimely injury just over a week before the non-waiver trade deadline in July, was first diagnosed with a cramp in the back of his right arm, with that injury eventually determined to be a stress reaction.

The injury occurred during a July 21 start at St. Louis. Garza first started feeling discomfort after two innings and lasted just three innings in the game. He finished the season with a 5-7 record and a 3.91 ERA in 18 starts. It was the first time he did not make at least 30 starts since 2007 with the Minnesota Twins.

According to the Cubs, Garza's injury is healing as expected, which is why he was given the OK to proceed with his offseason schedule. Garza had a scan of the area near his right elbow this week and the results checked out normal with team orthopedist Stephen Gryzlo.

Garza is expected to lead the Cubs' rotation in 2013, with the possibility that he could be traded away for prospects at midseason.

"(Garza) is obviously very talented and he will lead this staff very well," said new Cubs starting pitcher Scott Baker, who was signed as a free agent this week. Baker and Garza were teammates in the Twins organization.