MILWAUKEE -- Wearing a Brewers jersey for the first time since his heated departure in September, Matt Garza said Sunday that he was committed to the team's rebuilding process but would "pitch selfishly" in an effort to rebound from the most frustrating season of his career.
"I'm going to pitch for me," Garza said during Brewers On Deck. "I haven't done that in my whole career, but I think it is time I pitch for me. I hate to say it, but I deserve it."
Garza went 6-14 with a 5.63 ERA last season before being removed from Milwaukee's starting rotation on Sept. 6. Instead of moving to the bullpen, he denounced the Brewers' decision and went home to California, where wife Serina was enduring a difficult pregnancy with twins.
The babies, a boy and a girl, were born healthy six weeks later. Garza has spent the offseason caring for the couple's four other children while Serina tends to the twins, and he vowed a comeback once he takes the mound again.
"Last time, when I was in Chicago [with the Cubs at the start of a rebuilding period], I wanted out," Garza said. "This time, I want to stay. I want to see it through. I want to be here when all the fruits come bearing. I'm going to do what I've got to do to stay here. That's be myself. That's be the old Matt Garza. Not the one that was an anomaly last year."
Offered an opportunity to explain what he meant by "pitch selfishly," Garza said, "Stop trying to be someone [else], stop trying to please people and just go out there and be me. I've been trying to please people to stay places, and it's just the point in my career where I'm over it. As long as I keep playing, that's all I'm worried about now. I need to keep playing. That's what I mean by pitching selfishly. I'm pitching to be me. …
"When I left, I knew what I had to do. I knew what was wrong. It was nothing pitch-wise. It was nothing mechanical. It was all physical. I'm 32. I was training like I was 25. I had to rethink my whole training. I hired another trainer, I hired a Pilates instructor. I'm killing myself seven hours a day for the last four months. I'm ready."
Garza is the veteran of a Brewers rotation projected to also include Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann and newly acquired Chase Anderson. Young pitchers like Zach Davies, Jorge Lopez and Ariel Pena will push for one of those spots in Spring Training.
Manager Craig Counsell has stressed that the Brewers are counting on Garza, who is due $12.5 million in each of the next two seasons. Both Counsell and Garza have insisted there is no ill will, and Garza said he doesn't regret the manner in which he departed in September.
"If someone told you they were taking your job away, would you just accept it or fight it?" Garza said Sunday. "That wasn't why I went home. I would have stuck around, but they told me I wasn't starting, so it was like, 'I can go home and help my wife.' That was exactly what I had to do."
On Sunday, Garza shed more light on what was happening at home at the time. His wife, Garza said, was bedridden for eight weeks before he departed the team, and she remained so for another six weeks before giving birth.
"My wife needed me at home," Garza said. "I tried to ride it out as long as possible. Whatever was written, whatever was said, it is what it is. People can take whatever they want, like, I left the team. Whatever. But my family comes first. Always has, and it always will."