Matt Garza throws pain-free bullpen session

MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs' prospects for a solid pitching rotation were enhanced on Monday when Matt Garza threw a bullpen session for the first time since the end of July and had no complications.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and pitching coach Chris Bosio watched Garza throw 30 pain-free pitches at the team’s minor league complex.

“Matty looks like he is in great shape,” Bosio said. “It looks like he worked hard in the offseason. His legs are in great shape and I believe he is ahead of where he was last year when he reported.”

Garza had his 2012 season cut short after experiencing pain in his right triceps. That injury eventually led to a stress reaction in his elbow that ended his season in July after 103.2 innings pitched. Garza, who was on the trading block before his elbow strain, compiled a 5-7 record with a respectable if not spectacular 3.91 ERA.

The 29-year-old right-hander is going into his free-agent year after the 2013 season, in which he will earn $10.25 million.

“He has been on his program all winter and has not had any hiccups at all,” Bosio said. “The ball was coming out of his hand great today. He should be pretty happy and it was good to see him pitch with no concerns at this point.”

Garza threw mostly fastballs in Monday’s session. Before taking the mound, the pitcher played long toss for 20 minutes and joked with other players in camp. Bosio hit Garza some ground balls to end his workout for the day.

“He is on a program we put him on and at this point he is ahead of schedule,” Bosio said. “The communication I have had with our trainers indicate they are very happy where Matt is at in his program. As for me, I do not have any concerns at all for him. He has always been very honest about how he feels with us.”

The plan, according to Bosio, will have Garza throwing every other day at the beginning of camp . After two or three bullpens the starting pitchers throw live batting practice every fourth day with a side session in between. Garza and the rest of the Cubs’ rotation pitchers will then pitch every five days when the Cactus League season begins Feb. 23.