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Who is Jaime Garcia?
- Updated: August 17, 2012
Who is this lefty ace that we haven’t seen all season? Why has he been spending so much time in the minors rehabbing “a shoulder strain?”
What is the usual recovery time of a shoulder sprain?
Does it usually take 1/3 of the season?
The lefty returns to St. Louis on Sunday to face the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates in what will be a pivotal series as we head down the stretch for the end of the 2012 season.
But who is Jaime Garcia?
Let’s look at the numbers:
By July 2011 (after re-signing) Garcia was the next standard by which lefties on the Cardinals roster were to be judged. Post Tommy Johns surgery, he had revived something in his spirit and ability to rise above and outperform his other all-star rotation buddies. Until mid July 2011 the (then) 25-year-old Garcia lead the team in victories at the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.23 ERA. He was due to be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season. The Cardinals snatched him up at the break.
The price tag: 4 yr(s) / $27,500,000 and a $500,000 signing bonus.
So, Mozeliak, was it worth it?
Fast forward to August 23rd, after much speculation, and spotty attendance, Dave Duncan bows out of the Pitching Coach position to care for his wife. Coincidentally — Garcia only wins 4 more games for the remainder of the season. After starting 32 games he ended with a record of 13-7 and bumped his ERA up to 3.56. Not a bad year by any means, but not as stellar as GM Mozeliak had hoped. What went wrong? Was it mental? Was it routine change?
Move forward to 2012, Garcia starts 11 games and although usually consistent at home (versus a drab record on the road) he starts to lose his traction. Jaime’s mental toughness becomes visibly strained and often times absent when innings start to unravel.
Jaime started losing games, and at variable rates, left the bullpen to clean up a mess by the 4th or 5th inning. After 11 starts and a couple of short injury scares something gave out. Was it really a nagging shoulder strain? Was it too much changing at once? Was it mental toughness? All these questions—and very few answers.
The decreased productivity started to trend post All-Star break in 2011 and seemed to be a haunting issue as the lefty moved into the 2012 season.
So who is Jaime Garcia?
Many see him as a very Obsessive Compulsive pitcher, someone with a set routine, someone who relies on predictability and accountability. Keep in mind–this isn’t something new to baseball. This isn’t historically an unorthodox trait in big leaguers. Some of the greatest players in history had some quirks that got them through the day.
- Steve Carlton’s facial contortions (Google it, it’s worth a Google)
- Mike Hargrove, The Human Rain Delay
- Nomars toe tapping (Ugh)
- And our very own Al Hrabosky with his awesome routine which consisted of: between each pitch, he would turn his back to the batter, walk towards second base, vigorously rub the ball between his palms several times, take a deep breath, and pound the ball into his mitt. He would then storm back to the mound, staring down the batter. – (Wikipedia) (Hrabosky) ; Here is a link of Hrabosky talking about his ‘mental toughness/routine’:
- Garcia needs to find his mental toughness. Many writers/bloggers feel he is too emotional when he pitches and when things start to unwind he can’t recoup. He can’t adjust. Pitching is a game of making adjustments. That is elementary for all baseball scholars.
So what does he need to do to find his place?
Garcia needs to find his niche in this rotation. He needs to lead by example and accept the good days, games, innings, and pitches as well as the bad with a relaxed and composed effort. He needs to rely on his coaches.
According to Garcia himself regarding his return, “I have some confidence back and I feel like my timing is where it needs to be with my pitches,” …”Most importantly, my shoulder is feeling good. When you rehab from a shoulder, it’s tough to get the feeling back, the feeling of making pitches and trusting your stuff. It’s a little more complicated than the elbow. But like I said, this start was definitely big for me to get some of that confidence back.” (stlcardinals.com)
“Some confidence back…” Ouch.
You might ask, “Adam how can I help?”
Imagine 40,000+ in attendance cheering, Cardinal Nation, support him when he comes back on Sunday. The roar of the crowd! All in attendance chanting his name! Welcome him back as he leaves the bullpen warm-up to the mound. If there was a “most important” game of 2012, so far, it would be this Sunday against the Pirates.
Looking forward, a more important question will be: “Who will Jaime Garcia be?”
Written by @Deathisvictory
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison