One year from now, Matt Garza could be the type of big-game pitcher that teams are fighting over at the winter meetings.

But that presumes Garza's completely healthy and puts together the type of monster season the Cubs believe he's capable of having.

Garza's expected to begin throwing within the next several days as he recovers from the stress reaction in his right elbow. The Cubs met with his agents here at the Gaylord Opryland and have received good reports from their medical staff. Signs are pointing to him being in the Opening Day rotation.

"His mood, his optimism seems really good, and sometimes you have to gauge a lot based on that," general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. "He was pretty down in July and early August. You could tell he knew there was something wrong with him. Now you get the sense that he's excited to get going and start his real rehab.

"His mood is hopefully indicative of a totally healthy guy that can be ready to go in spring training."

There's nothing subtle about Garza, from his tattoos to his money quotes to the shaving-cream pies he liked to slam into teammates' faces during postgame television interviews. His state of mind is telling.

"You know Garza," manager Dale Sveum said. "He can't wait to get back on the mound. (But) right now, he's at baby steps."