New Cubs ace Garza ready for the change

Matt Garza's home games this season will be out in the elements instead of under a roof. He'll be pitching in a new league where there's no designated hitter.

And after leaving a team that was in the World Series just three years ago, he'll be starting for one that hasn't appeared in one since 1945 or won it since 1908.

Garza's approach as the expected new ace of the Chicago Cubs: Bring it on.

"We all want our lives to be filled with chapters, not the same old thing. So it's a new chapter, a new adventure," Garza said as he joined his new team for spring training. "That's what I tell my kids. We're going head-on, head-in, headstrong."

Garza won 15 games for Tampa Bay last season, then was acquired by the Cubs after spending the previous three years in arguably baseball's toughest division.

There were will be a difference right away. Instead of empty seats, there will likely be sellouts for most of the games Garza starts at Wrigley Field.

Garza was part of an exodus from Tampa Bay that included Carlos Pena, who signed as a free agent with the Cubs, Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano.

"I knew something like this was going to happen based off the market size of Tampa. It wasn't big. It wasn't small," Garza said. "When you're drawing 12,000 and you're in first place in the East, it's kind of rough to picture yourself there the following season. I knew this day was coming."

Garza pitched a no-hitter against Detroit last season while going 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts, He now will be facing lineups in which pitchers bat and often bunt, instead of confronting a batting order that might feature a DH such as Jim Thome.

"People say you're going to have an advantage, but I don't think so," Garza said. "I'm going against new guys and they're going against me. They're going to do their homework just like I'm going to do my homework."

One Cubs pitcher who's seen both leagues is Kerry Wood, a former ace who returned this season after two years as a reliever in the AL with the Indians and Yankees.

"He definitely solidifies the rotation," Wood said. "Watching him throw in the American League and seeing him dominate over there, he's coming into the National League where teams aren't going to know him as well as they knew him in the American League. And he's got great stuff."

New Cubs manager Mike Quade has already been asked numerous times who will be his opening-day starter. Garza? Carlos Zambrano? Ryan Dempster?

Quade said he'll hold out as long as possible before announcing his decision. Zambrano said he'd welcome the nod. Garza said he doesn't much care.

"To me it's just another day," he said. "To me it's really not a big deal. I feel it's an earned right. I don't know if I'm at that spot yet, but if he feels so, then so be it."

Garza, who signed a $5.95 million, one-year deal with the Cubs, was the MVP of the 2008 AL championship series, beating the Red Sox twice to send the Rays to their first World Series.

He's looking forward to his first start at Wrigley Field, the second oldest ballpark in the majors behind Fenway Park.

"Being a baseball fanatic and baseball buff, I love this old stuff. I liked throwing at Fenway, it was my all-time favorite park to throw in just because of all the history," Garza said. "I know I'm going to get goosebumps come opening day walking in."

NOTES: Carlos Silva returned to camp after being sent home Monday with a 103-degree fever. And although the Cubs' fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are supposed to be determined through competition this spring, Silva doesn't agree. "For me there is only maybe one spot open, because I am one of the starters. Whatever they think, they think. Not me." Silva went 8-0 in his first 11 starts last season and then 2-6 over his final 10. He had a procedure to correct a rapid heart beat in August and was sidelined by an elbow problem in September. "I don't think it's a reason to take me out of the rotation," Silva said. "They're the boss. They're the ones that make the decisions. If I have to win my spot again, I do it. I don't have any problem with that."