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Samardzija to start Cubs’ opener

Chicago Cubs' Jeff Samardzija throws before an exhibition spring training baseball 
game against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz. 
Samardzija was named the Cubs' opening-day starter on Sunday. (AP 
Photo/Morry Gash)
Chicago Cubs' Jeff Samardzija throws before an exhibition spring training baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz. Samardzija was named the Cubs' opening-day starter on Sunday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MESA, Ariz. – Matt Garza will start the season on the disabled list because of an injured muscle in his side that is preventing the right-hander from throwing, and Jeff Samardzija will be the opening-day starter for the Chicago Cubs.

Garza’s batting-practice session was cut short Feb. 17 because of the injured latissimus dorsi muscle. He rested 10 days and was in the second day of a throwing program on flat ground when he felt more tightness Saturday. He won’t throw for the next week.

“I don’t sit back and let things happen, I make them happen and keep pushing and going,” Garza said Sunday.

“Now we know it is just time. The recovery rate I was on, everything felt great. It’s the body’s way of saying it is going to take a little more time. It’s not a setback, more like I’ve come to the realization you can’t out-mind your body.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza will get two spring-training starts at most and will miss the first two weeks to a month of the season.

Samardzija will start at Pittsburgh on April 1. He was 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA last season, when he had a 2.39 ERA in his last seven starts.

“He is a guy the players rally around because of his bulldog mentality when he is one the mound,” Sveum said. “It is a very obvious choice really.”

Samardzija will be joined in the rotation by Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva, Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman.

“I went through some humbling baseball experience in ’09 and ’10. It put a lot of things in perspective,” Samardzija said. “I’m excited. The best thing as an athlete is to see all your hard work lead to positive gains from it. You get some taste of success and you want to keep that rolling. That’s where I am right now.”

Cubs (ss) 4, Angels 2: At Tempe, Ariz., Joe Blanton allowed a first-inning solo homer to Brian Bogusevic in his first game in a Los Angeles Angels’ uniform, a loss to a Cubs’ split squad Sunday.

Blanton, who agreed to a $15 million, two-year deal with the Angels during the offseason, allowed just the one hit in two innings, struck out two and walked none. Blanton was 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA for Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.

Nick Struck, the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year, made his second exhibition appearance and gave up two hits in three scoreless innings.

Brewers 4, Cubs (ss) 3: At Mesa, Ariz., Carlos Gomez homered and Taylor Green had two hits to help Milwaukee beat a Cubs split squad.

Gomez and Green backed an impressive outing by Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada before he left to join Team Mexico for the World Baseball Classic. Estrada pitched four scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, walked two and struck out three.

Green singled home the second run of a two-run rally in the first inning against Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. Gomez’s homer leading off the third came against reliever Drew Carpenter.

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