Starlin Castro back in Cubs lineup

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was back in the lineup on Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies for the first time since Feb. 27, and pitcher Matt Garza did some light throwing as he continues to recover from a lat injury.

Castro injured his hamstring running the bases, but it was never considered a serious problem. Manager Dale Sveum indicated several times that if the regular season had started, Castro would have played.

Castro played three innings and had a hit and a walk in two plate appearances against the Rockies.

"I feel good. (No) pain, (no) tightness. Nothing," Castro said after the game.

Castro was happy to be back on the field after the extended absence.

"Oh yeah, I don't want to be in the training room my whole life," Castro said.

Sveum is happy to have more players back from injuries, including utilityman Brent Lillibridge and third basemen Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters, who will return this week.

"We're getting closer to all the pieces of the puzzle," Sveum said. "It's always nice to get your guys back and healthy. Thank God all these injuries happened kind of early. Give us the ability to get everybody ready for Opening Day."

Although Garza is still targeting mid-April for his return, Sveum said it probably will be late-April or even early May.

"Things went well today," Sveum said. "He threw from 45 feet, then 10 tosses from 60 feet."

Garza originally hurt his left lat throwing batting practice early last month. He took about 10 days off but had a setback after throwing again. He hasn't pitched since, and now it's finally improving.

"Threw on Sunday and Monday, felt all right [Tuesday], so we're going to do it again and see how it goes," Garza said Wednesday morning.

"I was expecting to be real sore. I was muscular sore but not the 'old' sore. It's good, but it's just slow."

Garza said he's still working out and keeping in condition, but as for throwing, it's "day by day." Garza is hopeful he can pitch in the final week of spring training either in Arizona or in an exhibition game in Houston on March 28 or 29. The Cubs open the season in Pittsburgh on April 1.