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Cubs' Garza, Yankees' Hughes temporarily sidelined

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Matt Garza made just 18 starts last season because of an elbow injury.

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza has a mild side strain and is expected to miss only a week of spring training camp.

Garza strained his side while throwing live batting practice on Sunday, when he faced batters for the first time since last July. He underwent an MRI on Monday which revealed a "mild strain" in his side, Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer said.

"We're probably going to let him rest for about a week, make sure he's pain-free, at which point he can ramp back up his throwing," Hoyer said Tuesday. "I think it's safe to say it pushes back his first Cactus League start. But what it means for the regular season, it's clearly much too early to say. We felt like it was really good news, it's just a mild strain."

Hoyer said Garza is in good spirits. The 29-year-old went 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA last season, but didn't make any starts after July 21 because of an elbow issue.

The right-hander reported to camp in great shape, and Hoyer said the injury was not related to any lack of conditioning by Garza.

"He looks great," Hoyer said. "His body looks different. This guy worked his butt off this winter. He was sort of like a caged animal. He couldn't do a lot for a long time and once he got a chance to work out fully, he looks fantastic. This has nothing to do with how he came into camp. I believe him when he said he came in in his best shape. He looks like it."

Garza is one of the candidates manager Dale Sveum will consider to start on opening day for the Cubs, who lost 101 games last season.

Hughes shut down with stiff back

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes has upper back stiffness and will be sidelined for a few days.

"There's always a little bit of concern, but it's upper back by his shoulder blades, so we'll see how he is in a couple days," manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday. "You're usually more concerned about the lower (back problem) lingering. The good thing is he was ahead of where he'd probably normally be at this time, which helps."

Hughes was hurt Monday during a defensive drill covering first base.

Closer Mariano Rivera did throw, 36 pitches during his third bullpen session, and is ready to face batters for the first time since May.

"I think the next one's going to be BP," Rivera said.

Baseball's career saves leader was hurt while shagging fly balls during batting practice in Kansas City on May and had surgery June 12 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

A small group of fans watched the 43-year-old right-hander throw and gave him a loud cheer afterward. One fan asked how he felt, and Rivera replied "fine, and how are you?"

Rivera usually pitches seven or eight innings in spring training games.

CC Sabathia threw 30 pitches in his second mound session and said his control was better. The left-hander had arthroscopic surgery Oct. 25 to remove a bone spur from his left elbow.

Rivera and Sabathia are both expected to be ready for opening day.

Right-hander David Phelps, who threw 30 pitches during two innings in a simulated game, is scheduled to start Saturday's spring training opener against Atlanta. Adam Warren is expected to start Sunday's home exhibition opener with Toronto.

Notes: Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner says there is no new news regarding contract talks with second baseman Robinson Cano, who could become a free agent after the season. Steinbrenner revealed two weeks ago that the team had talked with Cano's agent, Scott Boras. "We expressed to Scott how much we like Robby and what a great Yankee he's been, and we hope he continues his career here for a long time to come," Steinbrenner said. "We just indicated to him on a very preliminary basis that we were willing to consider a significant long-term contract, and left it at that. There's really nothing to report since then." ... Steinbrenner said there have been no talks with Girardi, who is in the final year of his contract. ... Steinbrenner talked with Girardi and GM Brian Cashman after Tuesday's spring training workout.

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