I take this opportunity (and depart from the positional previews temporarily) to comment on Matt Garza’s lat.
The official party line from the Cubs has been that Matt Garza had an MRI, which revealed a “mild” lat strain. At this point, I have no reason to doubt that’s the God’s honest truth.
What most people aren’t exactly aware of is what some of these terms mean. And when the team says he should be back in two weeks, then returns saying he’s going to miss the first month of the season when he should be
coming back, fans think the worst: They were lied to.
A muscle is like a rope. Like a rope, a muscle is remarkably strong, until there is any kind of damage to it. And just like cutting even a small amount into a piece of rope, if there is even mild muscle damage, any force to the damaged muscle can cause some serious damage or complete failure. A strain is a tear, and it comes in varying degrees of severity. Grade 1 is the least severe, and is likely what the MRI of Matt’s lat showed. Grade 2 is more severe, but it not a complete rupture…which is grade 3.
Matt Garza and Dale Sveum have echoed similar things throughout the process. They’re taking it slow, and making sure it’s healed. There are a number of reasons why the process is taking more time than initially expected. Matt Garza could be one of the unlucky “slow healers.” We’re out there. It happens. There could have been some swelling in the area of the strain that prevented the healing process from taking place initially, and the healing didn’t actually start until later. Regardless of the reason, “discomfort” is a signal that the injury persists, even if only slightly. Referring back to my rope analogy, however, the slight remains of an injury to a muscle which will have a great amount of force applied to it when he pitches can lead to the grade 2 or 3 strain. Those are both a lot worse, and would likely take away from a major portion (if not all) of the 2013 season for Matt Garza, and would render him 100% untradeable.
In a purely speculative exercise, maybe the Cubs shut down Garza for two more weeks. Just to make sure. At that point, it’s March 18. At that point, if Garza is given a clean bill of health, he lost a month of Spring Training to stretch out to be able to throw the number of pitches a starting pitcher throws out of gate in April. Missing the first month of the season doesn’t seem so unreasonable, anymore. Again, I can’t tell you with certainty what’s going on in Arizona, but that seems like a pretty plausible explanation.
Let’s hold off on the panic or doubting what the team is saying here. There are a lot of reasons to think you’ve been lied to by a professional sports team. This time just isn’t one of them.