St. Louis Cardinals

July 5, 2014

Garcia's decision to have season-ending surgery upsets Mozeliak

Jaime Garcia will undergo season-ending surgery after confirming Saturday that he has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome.

The St. Louis Cardinals left-hander, who was placed on the disabled list June 23 with shoulder inflammation, said the injury is similar to what Chris Carpenter experienced. Carpenter was forced to retire at the end of the 2012 season despite undergoing surgery.

"I'm experiencing some nerve issues," Garcia said. "I have (numbness) in the hand, tingling in the neck, numbness in two fingers, weakness in my arm, fatigue. It's similar to (Carpenter), but his was way different. He had a lot of other stuff."

Garcia, who turns 28 on Tuesday, said there is no trouble with his shoulder, which has been operated on twice. Garcia also has had Tommy John surgery.

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said Garcia has an appointment Monday with Dr. Robert Thompson in St. Louis. Thompson will perform the operation, but the date for the surgery has not been determined.

"That (appointment) is really sort of a precursor to the next step of having surgery," Mozeliak said.

Mozeliak was angry not only that Garcia disclosed his condition to the media, but that he committed to having surgery without first having a conversation with club officials.

"I am a little surprised that it went from where it was the last couple of days to where it is today," Mozeliak said. "From a medical (standpoint), we felt like there were some other options he could consider before taking this step. He chose to go down this path.

"Look, we want him to get healthy. If this is something that he feels is his only option, then obviously he has to do it. That still doesn't excuse the fact he could have notified us a little differently."

Mozeliak expressed exasperation with Garcia's inability to stay healthy. The Cardinals signed him to a four-year, $27-million contract in July 2011, a deal that includes club options for 2016 and 2017. Garcia has made just 49 regular-season starts since signing the contract.

"It's certainly frustrating from a club standpoint," Mozeliak said. "Clearly, he's been a hard guy to count on and a hard guy to keep on the field. It just always seems like there's something physically (wrong) with him. Now he'll have another opportunity to rehab to see if he can't get back for next year."

Garcia said late Saturday morning that an operation was "an option." Within minutes, he apparently told team doctors of his decision to have the surgery.

Mozeliak said he was aware of Garcia's symptoms, but that he didn't know about Garcia's decision to have surgery until about 15 minutes before he met with the media.

"To go from the DL to this has been rather quick," Mozeliak said. "In terms of where we were (Friday) to where we are today, it does seem rather dramatic and quick. Obviously, he internalized this and decided to make a decision."

Asked whether he was frustrated by Garcia's revelation Saturday, Mozeliak said: "Do I sound frustrated? Do I look frustrated? I am frustrated."

"You try to be patient with people," he said. "I think this organization does an amazing job protecting players. Obviously, these are difficult times when you're dealing with injuries. But I certainly would have loved to have heard from him."

Garcia, who is 3-1 with a 4.12 ERA in seven starts, said he felt fine until May 4 when, while on a rehab assignment at Class AA Springfield, he was hit by a pitch in his left elbow. He was diagnosed with a bruised elbow.

"It started with just one nerve --the nerve they moved when they did my Tommy John (in 2008)," Garcia said. "I had the symptoms after that (hit by pitch) happened, and they did not go away. I thought it was just from getting hit, which was the reason why I kept going out there.

"But I was not in control. I could not feel my hand. I would lose the feeling. Then I started having symptoms on the other nerve, which is a nerve that controls the other three fingers of the hand. And that's when I started getting tingling in my neck and (numbness) in my hand with every single throw I was making. That's what got me a little more concerned about it."

Mozeliak isn't convinced the roots of Garcia's injury were planted when he was hit by the pitch.

"Certainly, if you're looking at things to connect dots, you could do that," he said. "But that's not something that was told to me."

Even Garcia acknowledged that doctors he has visited in recent weeks, including Greg Pearl in Dallas, said the hit by pitch had nothing to do with the injury.

Garcia is encouraged that pitchers Josh Beckett, Chris Young, Mike Adams, Matt Harrison and Clayton Richard have been able to return from thoracic outlet syndrome and be effective.

"I've talked to a number of different players that are out there that have had surgery that fixes that, and they're fine," he said.

Garcia opened the season on the disabled list. He returned May 18, and on June 8 blanked Toronto on three hits over seven innings.

But after a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia on June 20, Garcia was evasive with the media. Three days later, he was disabled.

Now, the earliest Garcia will pitch is 2015.

"It's a tough thing to deal with, especially because I want to be out there so bad," Garcia said. "I've prepared myself the last two years to do that, and I've gone through a lot in my career.

"But at the same time, it is what it is. It's very disappointing, especially how bad I want to be out there. But what can you do? I've done everything that's in my control that's been asked of me."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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