The Stl Cardinals have lost pitcher Jaime Garcia for the season because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The injury will require surgery and cost him the rest of 2013.
The lefty starter originally felt pain in his shoulder during a start in the 2012 National League Divisional Series against the Washington Nationals. He pitched two innings before being pulled from the start. Instead of having surgery following the first issue, Garcia chose to rehab and see where things went.
Things went south. Dr. James Andrews saw Garcia after the second issue, and was surprised Garcia pitched so well up to this point. What one has to be surprised about is if Garcia will ever be himself again.
Shoulder injuries and Stl Cardinals pitchers have been more common than one would like to admit. Most recently, Mark Mulder suffered from rotator cuff problems from 2006-2008. Mulder was supposed to help shore up the starting rotation, but never lived up to his potential after a great run with Oakland. The trade that sent Mulder to St. Louis cost the Cards Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton. Haren alone has made the deal a loss for the Cardinals.
Garcia, like Mulder, is a lefty who has been most successful with his control. Mulder lost his control after multiple surgeries. Is Garcia doomed for the same? Having to recover from surgery and lengthy rehab clearly takes away this season. Will spring training be the goal?
Garcia is no stranger to surgery. In 2008, the 22-year old Garcia went under the knife for Tommy John surgery. The surgery made news across baseball because of his prospect status, and because of questionable throwing mechanics. The mechanics have been changed some, but maybe not enough with the reoccurring shoulder troubles.
One thing Garcia will have to do is be patient. The Stl Cardinals organization won’t rush him, especially with some of the best pitching depth on the current roster and in the minors. Joe Kelly, Tyler Lyons, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and John Gast will all be looked at to fill the open spot in the starting rotation. Gast and Lyons were called up to spot start this season, so the safe bet is that they continue to get the starts.
Jake Westbrook could return to the rotation soon. He had a throwing session May 22, but had to cut it short after feeling discomfort. Whether or not it pushes he return back days or weeks is yet to be seen,
Jaime Garcia has the opportunity to be a top-3 of the rotation on a consistently competitive Stl Cardinals squad. It is just too bad to potentially see that opportunity go by the wayside because of untimely injuries to his throwing arm.
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