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Garza works on all phases in latest outing

Garza works on all phases in latest outing

Garza works on all phases in latest outing
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Matt Garza mixed his pitches well on Monday, but more important than that, he was successful at the plate and came through on two sacrifice bunts.

The Cubs did not take advantage of the designated hitter against the Mariners because they wanted Garza to bunt. He's been spending a lot of time with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to prepare for his first season in the National League.

"I was a little upset at the first one," Garza said of the sacrifice in the second inning with two on and none out. "I knew I was supposed to get it to third [base]. I pulled the bat deeper back and just bunted to first, and I was upset. I got it down and did the job and was able to put guys in scoring position."

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He delivered, even if the direction was off. In the fourth, he also executed a bunt with a runner on and one out.

As far as pitching went Monday, Garza, making his fourth spring appearance and third start, gave up one run on three hits and two walks over four innings in the Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Mariners. His plan had been to throw only fastballs in his first three outings, but he had to adjust that last Wednesday because he was having trouble with command.

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Before Monday's game, Cubs manager Mike Quade said he was curious to see what Garza and pitching coach Mark Riggins had in mind. Apparently, they decided to be creative.

"Today was more mixing," Garza said of his game plan. "I knew I had a live fastball. I was able to locate it better and I didn't want to keep using it. I wanted to mix stuff today.

"I threw curveballs when I didn't need to, I threw changeups when I didn't need to," he said. "I threw pitches in counts where they're 'called for' counts. Everybody in the world knows an offspeed [pitch] is coming on 2-0 [count], and that's not my style. But I used what I had to use, and got the pitches I had to get. I kept a lot of balls on the ground today and that's a good sign."

It would appear to be good to experiment and mix things up.

"At the same time, it complicates things," Garza said. "When you're pitching, you want to keep everything simple. Thinking out there too much is a distraction, so you just want to be able to feel what you're going to do and then attack with it.

"I felt certain things today and I knew it, but I went to pitches I had to get work with," he said.

As the new guy in the Cubs' rotation, Garza will be watched closely by fans, who can turn on a player if he doesn't perform up to their standards. He's pitched at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. No problem, said Garza, whose first start at Wrigley Field will be April 3 against the Pirates.

"I've gone into the most hated stadiums in all of baseball," he said. "If fans get on me after one or two outings, it's not that important. I've got 33 starts I have to make this year. I'm pretty sure one or two or three won't be up to their liking.

"I'll go in and do my job," he said. "You can't worry about anything else -- all I can worry about is trying to get 27 outs and trying to get them as fast as possible."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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