Garza happy after solid rehab start

Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza made his third minor league rehab start Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, lasting into the fourth inning and throwing 54 pitches.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked to Garza, who is working to come back from a strained lat muscle, after his start.

“I talked to him on the phone and he was really pumped up,” Sveum said. “Everything went really well. The hits (allowed ) were bloopers or a bunt hit. He was pretty efficient and threw all his pitches 100 percent. His slider was up to 87 mph. He was getting after it a little bit today.”

Garza could be back after one more minor league start, but likely will have two more rehab outings. If he stays on schedule the most likely date he could return to the Cubs rotation would be during a May 21-23 series in Pittsburgh at PNC Park.

The return of Garza will send one of the team’s current rotation pitchers to the bullpen. Of the five, only Edwin Jackson is off to a poor start.

“I don’t even let myself think about having extra starters,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “There is really no point in talking about it. We had discussions like that in spring training when we had seven starters. We thought (Travis) Wood and (Carlos) Villanueva would be in the bullpen (then). There is no point to talk about the hypothetical because it always seems to take care of itself.”

Garza missed the last two months of the 2012 season with a stress reaction in his right elbow. He injured his left lat on Feb. 17 in a spring training side session.