Garcia's short Phillies career could be over early
Getting Freddy Garcia looked like a steal, but now the Phillies might be left empty-handed.
The injured right-hander will see renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday for a second opinion on his ailing shoulder. An MRI exam on Monday showed fraying in Garcia's rotator cuff and a problem in the labrum.
The 31-year-old Garcia said surgery is a "last resort," and he hasn't ruled out returning to the mound this season.
"I hope so. I don't know," Garcia said before Tuesday night's game against the Chicago White Sox.
If Andrews recommends surgery, Garcia said he would have to strongly consider it, even though it probably would cost him millions on the free-agent market after the season.
"It's for my own good," he said. "I don't want to pitch the way I've been pitching. If I was 100 percent, I'd be pitching good. I got to think about me. I'm going to be a free agent."
If Garcia has season-ending surgery, his Phillies career would be over before it even got started. He is making $10 million in the last year of his contract.
While Garcia tried to sound optimistic, recovery time for the surgery he would need usually takes at least a year.
The Phillies traded former No. 1 pick Gavin Floyd and minor league pitcher Gio Gonzalez to the White Sox for Garcia in the offseason thinking they were getting the workhorse that threw 216 1/3 innings last season and finished with a 17-9 record and 4.54 ERA. Instead, Garcia went 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts.
He lasted 1 2/3 innings against the Royals on Friday and gave up six earned runs on seven hits. The Phillies' Web site reported that his fastball only reached 83 mph, prompting manager Charlie Manuel to ask if his pitcher was OK. Garcia revealed that his arm had been sore since spring training. He went on the disabled list on Saturday.
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Garcia's former manager, Ozzie Guillen, spoke to the pitcher on Sunday and feared the worst.
"Almost always, a second opinion is not too much different," said Guillen, whose wife's niece is married to the pitcher. "Hopefully, he won't have to go to surgery, but, from what I hear, he might have to go. That's a shame, because [the Phillies] are missing a pretty good pitcher."
General manager Pat Gillick insisted Garcia wasn't "damaged goods" when the team acquired him. Even though some reports said Garcia's velocity was down toward the end of last season, the Phillies didn't make the trade contingent upon him passing a physical.
"We didn't think a physical was necessary," Gillick said. "Our doctors spoke to their doctors and our training staff spoke to theirs and we were satisfied his health was good. Our scouts saw him pitch in September. They thought he was healthy."
Guillen does not believe that the White Sox knew about an injury.
"The guy pitches 200 innings plus every year. That can get to you," he said, according to the Daily News. "I think the kid is great, and we thought he was going to be great for Philly."
From his first appearance in spring training, Garcia clearly wasn't the same pitcher who won at least 16 games four times in his first eight seasons. He opened the year on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis and never showed his old form.
"I would have to think [the injury] happened over the winter or in spring training," Gillick said, adding he's "optimistic" Garcia will pitch again this season.
Right-hander Kyle Kendrick was called up from Double-A Reading to take Garcia's spot in the rotation. He'll make his major league debut Wednesday afternoon.
Brett Myers, the Opening Day starter who became the closer, isn't a candidate to replace Garcia when he comes off the disabled list.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.