Jaime Garcia nearing a return to St. Louis Cardinals rotation


After undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia is in the last steps of his return to the big league club – making a series of rehab outings with Triple-A Memphis.

While his return is near, the results have not been overly impressive, which sends mixed messages for a team already missing ace Adam Wainwright for the rest of the year.

Garcia, 28, pitched Sunday for the Redbirds, laboring through 2 2/3 innings and throwing 72 pitches. In the first two frames, the lefty did not allow a run, but in the third he ran into trouble, surrendering five runs. He notched a trio of strikeouts – all coming in the second – but overall, said he was unhappy with how he performed.

"“It’s nice to get out there in a normal game, the ball is coming out good, just didn’t do a very good job today. My main focus is trying to get the pitches in and trying to just get back out there.”"

For now, Tyler Lyons is filling the void in the St. Louis rotation – but having a healthy Jaime Garcia would take an already-good team and only fortify its pitching staff. The main question once Garcia is back is simple: which version will the Cardinals get? The 2010-11 Garcia who combined to win 26 games over the course of two seasons or the one that saw his earned run average rise from 2.70 in 2010 to a full-season career-worst 4.12 last year?

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When he’s hitting his spots and locating his pitches effectively, Garcia can be a major asset to the Cardinals’ pitching staff. However, when he misses and leaves his breaking stuff out over the middle of the plate, he gets hit – hard. According to a report from WMC NBC 5, the lefty is hoping he doesn’t make any more rehab outings before he gets back to work in St. Louis, but nothing has been set in stone yet.

According to St. Louis general manager Jon Mozeliak, however, both Garcia and Marco Gonzales both need some more fine-tuning before they get things going at the big league level (MLB.com).

"“In one regard, someone is coming from higher volume in Garcia’s case, but he hasn’t had a lot of game opportunities, so we have to be patient with that. And in Marco’s case, he just has to get his volume back up. I would expect that to be relatively quick, but we also want to be smart about it.”"

Next: Matt Carpenter to re-join Cardinals this week