Lillibridge on utility role, Cubs fans

CHICAGO -- After a little more than a week, Brent Lillibridge already has a pretty good idea of what it feels like to be on the other side.

The utility man signed with the Cubs as a free agent this winter after spending the bulk of his career with the White Sox, from 2009-2012. He has played primarily second base, with the absence of Darwin Barney, but he has also made a few appearances at third as Ian Stewart rehabs.

So he is getting used to some new surroundings on the field, and off it.

"It's good," Lillibridge said of his new spot in the home clubhouse. "Especially after being on the visiting side for so long. I was surprised. It's a little more spacious. We've got high ceilings. It feels like home, and I like the intimacy. Guys can't really get lost in the clubhouse. We're all in the same spot, and that's what I think brings teams together."

He's still looking to find a groove at the plate, batting 0-for-14 through five games. But he is not alone. Entering Tuesday, the Cubs were second-to-last in the National League with a .186 batting average.

"The biggest thing is just do your work," Lillibridge said about improving at the plate. "That's all you can control. There's only so many things you can control in this game, and it's preparation, your approach at the plate, swinging at good pitches, trying to hit the ball hard. And if the ball drops, the ball drops. It can be frustrating at times, and especially early on when the numbers are so glaring."

He may not be seeing as much regular time if Barney returns next week as expected, but Lillibridge is familiar enough with the utility role that he feels comfortable reverting back to it.

"I'm feeling comfortable," Lillibridge said. "I feel great at the plate, just being in the game all the time. I've taken a great opportunity to play a lot early, and I want to do well."

Barney nearly ready, but Garza has work left in rehab

Cubs' Garza breaks down his recovery timeline

CHICAGO -- Matt Garza's rehab is "all going really well," manager Dale Sveum says, but the right-hander still faces about a month of work and a program to stretch him out that the Cubs are looking at like a Spring Training regimen before he can rejoin the club.

Garza threw long toss and played catch on flat ground Tuesday afternoon, and Sveum said the righty would throw a few more bullpen sessions before embarking on a Minor League rehab assignment, the location of which, Sveum says, depends on the weather and where the Cubs are in their own schedule.

"He's got to get built up," Sveum said. "Basically his Spring Training is starting now. ... You're talking about four weeks from now, basically."

Garza has been sidelined since mid-February with a strained left lat and did not appear in a Cactus League game. The Cubs hope to have him back around the first week of May.

They should have Darwin Barney back sooner, though, as Sveum said Tuesday that the second baseman would play in Minor League games Saturday, Sunday and Monday before presumably rejoining the team next Tuesday. The Cubs are off Monday before opening a home series against the Rangers on Tuesday.

"He could play today," Sveum said Tuesday. "He's pretty much ready to go now."

Worth noting

• Cubs Minor League right-hander Pedro Silverio was suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for Metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Silverio is currently on the roster of the Dominican Summer League Cubs. His suspension will be effective at the start of the DSL season.

• Without Barney in the lineup, Cubs second basemen entered Tuesday hitting just .125 (3-for-24). But Sveum said there was also a presence in the field that is missed when he is not playing.

"I'm not pointing fingers. We haven't really been productive anywhere. It's not just there," Sveum said. "But you miss that defense, and the lack of striking out, as well. That defense is the best in baseball. When you lose that, you've got a chance of giving up runs and losing games because that defense isn't out there.

"He know this system of playing guys and reading bats, whether we're shifting or whatever. He knows that whole system and understands the pitchers on the mound, the pitches being thrown. There's just a calmness when he's out there."

• Sveum said he hoped fans would go a little easier on reliever Carlos Marmol, who recently lost his spot as the team's closer and was booed yesterday in the team's home opener.

"Hopefully he pitches well in the role he's at," Sveum said. "Hopefully he's really good and things do lighten up. It's unfortunate, but like I said yesterday, that's the fans' prerogative. They pay their money for the ticket. I don't know if a lot of people have gone through that kind of thing on Opening Day, but we've all been booed and been in big cities, the Bostons and the New Yorks and the Phillys. When things aren't going good, guys get booed. That comes with that ticket."