MESA, Ariz. — Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza suffered a mild back strain on his left side while throwing batting practice to teammates Sunday and is expected to miss at least a few days of practice.

Whether it will delay his start to the regular season, team officials said they would know more about his prognosis after he is examined again Monday.

“It looks like a mild lat strain,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We’ll see what happens when he wakes up and see where we are a little bit more (Monday). But it’s subsided, and he seems to be doing a lot better now.”

Garza got halfway through his throwing schedule when he felt a twinge and left the field with the trainer.

“The ball felt good coming out of my hand. I think that’s what I’m most upset about,” said Garza, who was considered a candidate to be the Cubs’ opening day starter. “But it shouldn’t be a big thing, and we’ll see (Monday).”

Garza hasn’t pitched in a game since July 21, when he left a start in St. Louis because of a “stress reaction” in his pitching elbow.

He has looked impressive the first week of spring training.

“Hopefully, it’s really nothing and he doesn’t even get really set back as far as opening day, and if not, then we’ll have to obviously evaluate the (timetable),” Sveum said. “We have the depth. It’s not that big a deal that way. It’s just too early to know what plan we’re going to take.”

With six weeks left before the season opens, Garza said he doesn’t think he’ll miss any time. “They tell me good things, and I look forward to (Monday) and see what’s going on,” he said.


Boesch tweaks oblique: In Lakeland, Fla., Detroit outfielder Brennan Boesch tweaked an oblique muscle in his right side and expects to miss a day or two of spring training.

Boesch said he hurt himself while swinging Saturday. Manager Jim Leyland said Boesch would not participate Sunday, but he had no other information on a timetable for Boesch’s return.

The 27-year-old Boesch is in the middle of a crucial spring training camp. He was left off Detroit’s postseason roster last year after hitting only .240, and although the Tigers signed him to a $2.3 million deal to avoid arbitration, his spot on the big league club isn’t necessarily secure. Boesch is competing for time in left field with Andy Dirks and Quintin Berry.

Blue Jays

DICKEY TEASES TEAMMATE WITH FASTBALL: In Dunedein, Fla., R.A. Dickey threw a fastball at about 84 mph, freezing Brett Lawrie.

“Right down the pipe!” Toronto’s third baseman said as a few Blue Jays’ teammates around the batting cage laughed.

Known for his knuckleball, Dickey can mix in a fastball not noted for its velocity.

“That can be a weapon, too, if you use it in the right place, if a guy has tracked 10 or 11 knuckleballs in a row,” he said. “When you throw a fastball in there, it’s a whole different animal. It looks a lot harder than it really is, so you can play with the optical illusion from time to time.”


SWISHER BACK AFTER FUNERAL: In Goodyear, Ariz, Nick Swisher returned to his first spring training with the Cleveland Indians after attending his mother’s funeral in Ohio.

Swisher left the club Thursday after the death of his mother, Lillian Marie Malizia, who died in Columbus, Ohio, from leukemia. She was 63.