Pitching amid trade rumors yet again, 28-year-old Cubs righty Matt Garza blanked the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field this afternoon, lowering his ERA to 4.02 while being scouted by the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rangers, Tigers, Dodgers, and Pirates, according to ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla. With just over two weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Garza may have only a handful of starts remaining as a Cub. The latest on the club:
- "The rumor mill can wait," Garza told reporters, because his wife is due in less than a month. Garza knows he can't control the trade rumors, but noted that he is open to an extension.
- According to Padilla, the Tigers have asked about Garza, second baseman Darwin Barney, and starter Ryan Dempster. Padilla says the Tigers' interest in Barney began over a month ago. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported on that situation on July 6th, adding that "talks didn't progress."
- "It's nice to know people are interested but I want to be here," Barney told reporters including Padilla after powering the Cubs' victory today with his fourth home run.
- Fan favorite Kerry Wood visited the Cubs' clubhouse today, telling MLB.com's Rowan Kavner and other reporters he's enjoying his first summer off in 25-plus years. Wood says his kids are still too young for him to ponder a coaching career. The former strikeout artist hung up his cleats in May this year.
- Third baseman Ian Stewart also made an appearance, expressing relief to reporters that a surgeon finally found the cause of his persistent wrist problems. The solution involved removing a bone from Stewart's wrist, and he currently has no timetable for his return. The 27-year-old's salary would likely remain in the $2.2MM range if the Cubs decide to tender him this winter and try again in 2013. Including Stewart, Cubs third basemen have tallied a dismal .223/.297/.374 so far in the post-Aramis era.
- It "wouldn't be cool" to see rotation-mate and mentor Dempster traded, Jeff Samardzija told Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday. The Cubs are best-served trading Dempster now to clear a path for a Garza deal later this month, opined ESPN's Buster Olney earlier today.