CHC@OAK: Villanueva solid for 2 2/3 innings of relief

DENVER -- A year ago, Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva was unsure where he would spend the next season, a position somewhat similar to what Matt Garza is enduring.

As a free agent after spending two years with the Blue Jays, Villanueva said the questions from not only the media but friends and family took a mental toll on him.

"It's been impressive the way [Garza's] handled it," Villanueva said Saturday night. "Last year I went through a little bit of something like that with my free agency, being a free agent for the first time. The questions started in August and I'll be honest with you, by the end of the year I was more mentally drained than physically."

Teammates have praised Garza for the way he's handled the constant trade rumors, and Villanueva said he's also set a strong example for other players to follow if they ever find themselves in a similar spot.

"He's a very tough man, mentally and physically," Villanueva said. "He's been an example for not only young guys, but older guys too that might go through that again in their careers. It's not easy, it's not easy and you try to block it out of your mind going over the same questions and same things every day."

Sveum confident Garza making next start for Cubs

STL@CHC: Garza breaks down great outing vs. Cardinals

DENVER -- On Friday it looked like Matt Garza would be pitching in a new uniform by the time his next scheduled start rolled around.

But the once-turbulent trade waters have calmed, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he remains confident that Garza will be on the mound for Chicago on Monday for the series opener against the D-backs.

"I'd say 100 percent he's going to be pitching tomorrow," Sveum said.

Sveum said Saturday that Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley are the early leaders to take over if Garza leaves the rotation, but he still has no established plan for a last-minute trade. Rusin would appear the more likely option because Raley just threw 4 2/3 innings for Triple-A Iowa on Friday.

The Cubs skipper once again emphasized that the decision on whether Garza stays in Chicago beyond the July 31 Trade Deadline is out of his hands, and Sveum will address the issue if and when it materializes.

Sveum did say he likely would not resort to relying on the bullpen since the Cubs do not have an off-day for more than two weeks. He would also try to avoid bumping up All-Star Travis Wood's Tuesday start.

"There's going to be something in place," Sveum said. "It's not just going to be a wing-it type thing. Whatever they got going on, if there is anything going on, there's going to be a contingency plan, but we're not going to bullpen it.

"If anything's that close, I would imagine there would be [an extra pitcher with the team]," he said. "But as of right now, there's nobody on its way."

Sveum also is trying to keep his head out of the rumor mill despite the endless trade talk and questions surrounding Garza.

"All I know is he's pitching tomorrow, and I guess if we get a phone call and something changes, that's the way it is," Sveum said. "But it's not something that consumes me, I don't live my life that way."

Arrieta could get call for July 30 doubleheader

Arrieta, Strop dealt to Cubs from Orioles

DENVER -- A promising young arm may soon join the Cubs rotation -- at least temporarily -- as Jake Arrieta could make his debut with Chicago in a July 30 doubleheader.

Manager Dale Sveum said he's unsure of the exact plan for Arrieta, who was picked up in a June trade with the Orioles, but added that the Cubs will need an extra arm to for the twin bill against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.

"We obviously need someone to pitch in the doubleheader," Sveum said. "We'll probably look at that here in the next couple days, somebody's got to be here the 30th.

"But like I said, the plan or whatever, that's up to [president of baseball operations] Theo [Epstein] and [general manager] Jed [Hoyer]."

Arrieta had a 7.23 ERA in five starts with Baltimore but has shown some improvement in Triple-A Iowa with a 5.17 ERA in four starts (15 2/3 innings).

Worth noting

• Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn't shy away from the fact that a few misplaced pitches in the fourth inning Saturday night spoiled starter Carlos Villanueva's outing.

Villanueva walked Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio with two outs in the fourth on a 3-2 slider, then tried a fastball on leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler that he smoked for a two-run triple to put Colorado up 3-1. Although those two pitches seemed like an especially cruel turn for the Cubs, Sveum said he could find such a fortuitous break in almost any game.

"Mostly every night, you can look back on something, whether it was a pitch selection or last night, it was obviously we walked the pitcher on a breaking ball," Sveum said. "Changed that whole game around, snowballed right after."

• A year ago, Matt Garza was also a trade chip before an injury just weeks before the July 31 Trade Deadline squashed his value. But Sveum said the team can't worry about an injury again keeping the Cubs from picking up the pieces they need to build for the future.

"Obviously we know those things can happen to anybody at any given time, but you certainly don't change things or do anything different," he said.