Garza feels good after first rehab start

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza reported all systems are go after throwing his first rehab start on Wednesday.

Garza is coming back from a lat strain this winter and an elbow injury in July, 2012. The Cubs are hoping that Garza can build arm strength and return to the rotation by the end of the month.

Garza suffered the lat strain on Feb. 17 in his second bullpen session of spring training. The 29-year-old missed the last two months of 2012 with a stress reaction to his right elbow. He threw 2.2 innings at Double-A Tennessee in his first competitive pitching since July 28, 2012.

"I was excited, pleased and can't wait for another five days," Garza said upon his return to Wrigley on Thursday. "There were no aftereffects. Just more like normal soreness, which is awesome. Granted I didn't complete my normal postgame routine but it went really good."

The plan according to Garza is to pitch for Triple-A Iowa next time out in hopes of building strength and stamina.

"I think I am headed to Iowa because Tennessee is off on my fifth day for another one and go from there," Garza said. "I am pretty pumped up."

Garza refused to get caught up in projecting when he may be ready to return to the Cubs rotation .

"I am just looking forward to (the second outing ) when we get to three we will make those decisions," Garza said.

The pitcher was asked if any good came out of not pitching competitively for eight months.

"Besides teaching me how to be patient and maybe rest since I first had arm surgery when I was 15, that would be the only residual effect," said Garza.