MESA, Ariz. – Cubs pitcher Matt Garza, facing batters for the first time since July, endured a frustrating day.
Garza was pulled from his first live batting practice session Sunday at Fitch Park after suffering a mild lat strain. Garza was only halfway through his scheduled 40 pitches when he felt a muscle grab on his left side. He threw one more pitch before walking off the field.
“I was fine throwing, but I felt something,” Garza said. “I’m not going to push it if I don’t have to. We’ll see [today] and go from there.”
Garza is day-to-day and will be re-evaluated today, though he was optimistic it wouldn’t be a long-term issue.
“It’s not as bad as I thought,” Garza said. “ … It shouldn’t be a big thing.”
Garza said he was throwing at 80 percent to 85 percent at the time of the injury. Garza, who was officially shut down in August because of a stress reaction in his right elbow, admitted he was frustrated he couldn't continue. He did not have any issues with his arm.
“The ball felt like it was coming out of my hand good,” Garza said. “I had control, downward movement. Everything had movement. I was happy, I threw the ball well. I got a little frustrated, but it’s early.”
Lillibridge’s versatility: Reflecting on a season that didn’t go as planned, utility player Brent Lillibridge is grateful for a clean slate.
“The biggest thing is I survived,” Lillibridge said of his 2012 season, which included being traded twice. “I survived the whirlwind of being traded. Obviously, it’s not close to the year I wanted. I had really high hopes from  that I was really moving my career forward and becoming one of the best utilities.”
Lillibridge has a great shot at making the Cubs’ 25-man roster because of his versatility. He can play any of the four infield positions, as well as any position in the outfield.
Lillibridge, who signed a one-year minor league deal with a camp invite, still believes he’s an infielder first, outfielder second. Lillibridge’s highlight-reel catches during his four seasons with the White Sox suggest otherwise, but he’s willing to play anywhere if it helps him get on the field and help the Cubs win.
“I just love being in the infield; you’re so much more a part of the game,” Lillibridge said. “It’s just a lot tougher. I grew up an infielder. Outfield is fun. You get to run around and you don’t have as many responsibilities other than chase the ball down and throw it into the bases. I feel comfortable playing those positions.”
Cubs prank Sveum: The players weren’t about to let manager Dale Sveum live down his infamous hunting accident.
Halfway into their first all-player meeting Sunday, one by one each Cub took off his jacket to reveal a bright orange hunting jacket and handed Sveum one with a bulls-eye. The prank was inspired by Sveum’s offseason quail hunting accident when he was accidentally shot by Robin Yount.
“I haven’t gotten to the bottom of it. God help them when I find out,” Sveum joked.
Garza, known as a jokester, denied coming up with the idea.
“That was a good one,” Garza said. “[It was] just to loosen people up on the first day. It’s a little nerve-wracking, especially for the new guys.
“Guys laughed it off and [Sveum] laughed it off, so I think it was a good icebreaker for a lot of guys, loosen the tone in there.”