Jaime Garcia: Optimistic after Simulated Game
Left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia is feeling optimistic about his chances to head north with the St. Louis Cardinals when they break camp in Jupiter next week.
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In a simulated game this afternoon, Garcia threw 80 pitches in five innings, 58 for strikes.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, like many in Cardinal Nation, didn’t think that the pitcher had a chance at making the Opening Day roster. It seems that the left-handed pitcher has been working hard to make the Cardinals have to choose between three pitchers for the final rotation spot, rather than two.
“Our thought process is to keep pushing to where he’d need to be a starting pitcher in this league, and see how his body and everything responds,” Matheny said according to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. “He’s responding well. … We still have a ways to go. But what he’s doing certainly looks good.”
The fact that Garcia reached 80 pitches should leave the team and fans feeling hopeful. He’s a player that is owed just over $9 million this season and is out of options. Garcia is not an ideal candidate to come out of the bullpen meaning that the Cardinals will have to use him as a starter or find a club willing to discuss a trade.
“Obviously, with everything that I’ve gone through, there is a little bit of doubt in your mind not knowing how it’s going to be when you test it out going 80 pitches,” Garcia said according to Langosch. “But I tried to do my best not to think about that. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and focus on each day and what I need to do to get better for that day. I feel like ever since I got here and started throwing bullpens, up to this point, things have been getting better and better.”
Garcia is competing with both Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales for the final spot. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, and John Lackey are locks for the other four spots in the starting rotation.
As MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince notes, this competition is a good problem for the Cardinals to have. Should the team opt for a six-man pitching rotation, would Matheny be able to sell the idea to his pitchers?
“I think you’d have a mutiny,” Matheny said according to Castrovince. “If you have a Cy Young-caliber pitcher on your club, and you’re going to tell him that he’s going to have five days between every start, that’s going to be a really hard sell.”
Gonzales has options so he may be starting the season with the Memphis Redbirds.