Cubs pitcher Matt Garza got his first taste of his new team’s intracity rivalry with the White Sox today, and like most new Cubs players, he downplayed the importance of such games. From’s Carrie Muskat:

Matt Garza didn’t get caught up in the Cubs-White Sox rivalry. He started Thursday, and gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks over five innings.

“It’s a baseball game,” Garza said of the intracity rivalry. “It’s more for the fans. You step on the mound and you’re just looking at who do I have? It’s not, ‘Oh, he’s wearing a Sox jersey, he’s wearing an A’s jersey, he’s wearing a Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Yankees’ — it doesn’t matter. It’s still baseball. They have a job to do to hit the ball and I have a job to do to get outs.”

Will it be more intense in the regular season?

“Nah,” Garza said. “Shoot, I played in Boston during the playoff run, stretch time, and you’re the most hated person on that hill. I’m pretty sure Chicago will like me a little better than that.”

Poor, clueless Garza. I’m sure Red Sox fans booed him in the playoffs, but he was pitching for the Rays, not the Yankees. He is not prepared for White Sox fans — or Cardinals fans, for that matter — especially at their home field. Considering that he previously pitched for a team with a virtually nonexistent fan base, I don’t think Garza is even ready for Cubs fans to turn sour on him if he continues to pitch like he has in spring training.

It’s times like this that I’m thankful for players like Kerry Wood, who understands the nuances of the Chicago intracity rivalry and identifies so much with the Cubs that he turned down a bigger contract with the White Sox to return to the Cubs this offseason.

Incidentally, the Cubs beat the White Sox 8-7 today.