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Jaime Garcia arrives in Cardinals camp feeling healthy

Feb 11, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

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Jaime Garcia, who underwent surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum in May, is now “on the same schedule as the other starters” in Cardinals camp, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Garcia is under contract for $7.75 million this season (and $9.25 million in 2015) and posted a 3.89 ERA in 29 starts during the past two years despite pitching at less than full strength for much of that time:

It was pain. It was a lot of pain. During the game. After the game. Pain every single pitch. I was still trying to find ways to get people out. My stuff was good. My mechanics were good. But it was not fun. Not fun. Not fun having to go through that.

He has a lengthy injury history, so counting on Garcia to be healthy is always a leap of faith, but getting him back to his old self would provide a nice boost to what is already a fantastic Cardinals rotation.

  1. spudchukar - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    While the Cards have harder throwers, a poll among the St. Louis hurlers all agreed that Garcia is the most gifted of the Red Bird hurlers. They contend that he has the best overall stuff. He is their only projected lefty starter, although both Gast and Lyons are capable, and is a valuable contrast to the power righty arms.

    A healthy effective Garcia, screams for a 6 man rotation, but out of box thinking like that won’t be considered even by the savvy St. Louis management. But with the number of innings Wainwright pitched in the past two years, Wacha on an innings watch in 2014, Miller whose lack of use in the post season in 2013 was most likely due to a wary management, and the recovering Garcia, along with Lynn and Kelly, the idea certainly seems plausible.

    • stex52 - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      I haven’t seen Garcia pitch much. But any praise of Garcia having the best stuff on a staff that features Adam Wainwright is pretty heady stuff.

      As to the six man rotation, I like thinking out of the box. But an awful lot of the best pitchers I have watched over the years have commented that they are much more comfortable pitching more often than they are less often. It’s a complicated trade off.

      • paperlions - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        I remember the article. Apparently, Garcia was the unanimous choice among StL pitchers for the guy with the best stuff. Lots of good movement on all of his pitches….just can’t stay healthy and when he is, he has been prone to losing focus and giving up the big inning (you can see it happen, like a train wreck in slow motion)

      • spudchukar - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        Watching Garcia can be frustrating. For me, his greatest flaw is the nibbling, especially with 2 strikes. So often he gets ahead 0-2 or 1-2, and then ends up 3-2, hoping the hitter will chase a pitch far outside the strike zone.

        I don’t know if I would go so far as to say he is injury “prone”. It is the same injury, and while shoulder injury recovery is dicier than the elbow, many have recovered, and a healthy Garcia may be in the offing for years to come.

    • forsch31 - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      A set 6-man rotation isn’t going to happen. Starters appreciate getting their rest days, but they’re not going to like sitting too long on a regular basis, and then there’s a concern of them not throwing enough between starts to avoid injuries (which is why you see guys like Miller throw simulated games during the playoffs when they haven’t pitched for a while).

      However, Joe Kelly is the perfect spot starter. Someone who can contribute on a regular basis in the bullpen and take the ocassional start to help manage the other starters’ innings (or step in when somebody goes down, like the last two seasons). Which is the most likely scenario.

      • spudchukar - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        While I too “doubt” the 6-man rotation will happen, nothing in your comment sways my opinion. The injury threat, is suspect. Shouldn’t it be counter balanced by the fewer innings? And there is no reason starters cannot adjust, and keep ready with bull pen work.

        If your starting rotation “screams” excess, why not resort to the most obvious remedy and choose to go with 6 starters? Isn’t it worth the try? The dogmatic, 5-man rigidity is an approach that the Cards’ brass ought to ditch.

      • NatsLady - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        They go on seven days rest in Japan.

      • missingdiz - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        Kelly was a better starter than Lynn last season. And I like Lynn coming out of the bullpen–don’t give him a long time to think/fret/brood or whatever it is that saps his confidence.

      • paperlions - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        With the Cardinals current starting pitcher riches, I would be in favor of new rules that made every game 15 innings and gave each team 3 more roster spots for pitchers.

      • kyleshabram - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:19 PM

        waino, miller, wacha, lynn, martines, garcia… one could argue kelly is number 7! sheesh, that’s crazy

    • stlouis1baseball - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      Yeah…and if memory serves Spud…he was choosen unanimously as the pitcher with the best stuff. Now…if we could only believe him when he says he feels good. I mean…he wouldn’t lie about such a thing. Or would he?

      • spudchukar - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        I’d rather have a player who “lied” about an injury and tried to play, than one who readily handed over the ball and didn’t try to pitch through some pain.

      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        And this is just another case in which we disagree. You don’t risk your “team” losing a playoff game as a result of you not being truthful. Have you ever played team sports? If this happened on one of my teams the dude would have paid serious consequences. Which reminds me…how did his teammates react?

      • spudchukar - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        The scenario you create is the optimum situation to support your point. Of course, if it were the play-offs you would prefer honesty out of your player. It would be selfish to try perform if your injury prohibited you from doing so.

        The problem is it is seldom that simple. The ol’ axiom goes something like, “if you are hurt, play, injured, sit.” However, all players play hurt, and often don’t know if they are injured or not. It isn’t a manichaen choice. With age one learns one’s body and can make better decisions.
        Still, give me a guy who attempts to play through pain any day.

        As to your questioning my experience, I played in the Cards organization for 3 years, getting as far as AA, Arkansas in Spring Training, so I have at least a little idea of which I speak.

      • stex52 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        AA?? Is that all? Then why should any of us armchair guys who stopped playing in high school respect your opinion? :-)

      • paperlions - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:01 PM

        I never rather have a guy that lied about an injury than a guy that is honest about what he can do and his health. Pitching (or playing) with pain is a recipe for disaster….helps your team lose, postpones getting treatment/surgery to return to full health, and increases the odds of exacerbating the injury.

        Being tough sounds great, it also has little to do with winning baseball games. Look at the last 10 years of Ripken’s career…yeah, he was 32 and destined to decline, but he was a below average hitter 7 of those years and only resembled his former self once that entire decade. A few games off or a few necessary DL stints likely would have made him a more productive player and led to more wins for his team than him hobbling out there at gutting it out.

      • spudchukar - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        Every Baseball player plays every Baseball season in pain. And most Baseball players play most games in pain. Any notion otherwise is folly.

      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Of course Spud. But…(and correct me if I am wrong)…didn’t Jaime hide his injury in game #1 of the playoffs? And didn’t the players react rather negatively towards him as a result? This is precisely what I was referring to. Seriously. This is what I meant. Or am I remembering this incorrectly?

    • yahmule - Feb 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      Nothing screams for a six man rotation. You want to take away half a dozen starts from Wainwright and replace them with your SP6? Have you been chugging Nyquil this morning?

      • spudchukar - Feb 13, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        It is exactly what I would like to see happen. Wainwright has pitched too many innings the past two years. But it is the talent at the end of the rotation that makes the idea valuable.

        I would much prefer a stronger, fresher, Waino come play-off time.

  2. nymets4ever - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    If he’s healthy they beat Boston last yr

    • stex52 - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      And the general perception was Miller was out of gas. I’m not sure I don’t give Miller a chance to prove he isn’t.

    • cohnjusack - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      …not sure how that works.

      • paperlions - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        Here ya go:

        Step 1) Healthy Garcia
        Step 2) Beat Boston
        Step 3) Profit

    • grizz2202 - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      Wait, what did I miss, which one is it?

      Did Jamie learn how to hit for power?
      Or play SS/CF?

  3. gibbyfan - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Hey if it turns out the Cards have an abundanceof pitching they can always trade to deperate teams with blue chip prospects—-keeping the young talent coming –nothing wrong with that

  4. okwhitefalcon - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    When on, Garcia’s stuff is silly good.

    There are days when he looks almost uncatchable (even for Yadi) – pitches darting all over the place.

    If he can stay healthy, harness his ability and deal with adversity on the mound mentally without the inevitable breakdown(s) he’d be one hell of an asset moving ahead – all huge “ifs” obviously.

    As for a 6 man, it’ll never happen.

    An occasional spot start to alleviate innings build up should always be a consideration though, it’s not like they don’t have the guys (Kelly, Martinez, Lyons) that couldn’t fill the bill if called upon.

  5. cincinata - Mar 15, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Ya, that is what the Redbirds need, another great arm. In the meantime, we are stuck in Cinti with Homer asking way too much and Chapman who has no interest or cannot develop into the starter they need. This is not a question of money. The Reds have overpaid people who underperform and now we will have to face a team in the division with 5 or 6 guys who can throw the ball through a brick wall (Garcia not included). I think we are already toast, just waiting for the jam. And, Pitt is right behind them.

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