The Cardinals are putting the best possible face on the news about injured starting pitcher Jaime Garcia's shoulder.
According to general manager John Mozeliak, Garcia's surgery to repair his labrum and his rotator cuff went extremely well and the lefty hurler is expected to be ready to go at full speed by the start of 2014 training camp.
I'll believe it when I see it. Let's not fool ourselves, that's a big time serious surgery that has claimed the careers of an awful lot of pitchers over the years. But it's not impossible to come back from it.
Chris Carpenter can count a torn labrum among his many injuries. In fact, his shoulder injury is the only reason he plays in St. Louis. The Blue Jays cut Carpenter loose when he messed up his shoulder in 2002. Big mistake. The Redbirds rolled the dice on Carp and signed him, putting him on the payroll despite the fact that he was going to miss the entire 2003 season. From 2004 on he's got a 95-47 record with a 3.07 ERA and the 2005 Cy Young Award to his credit. He also was the ace of two pitching staffs that won the World Series.
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Of course, in St. Louis when we think of pitchers getting shoulder surgery we think of guys like Mark Mulder who never were the same after being cut on.
While I am disappointed that Garcia didn't have surgery last year -- so he would be at full strength now -- I really hope that he can get it together next season and finally be healthy for the first time in three years. I get that he wanted to avoid it if at all possible. But it wasn't realistically possible given the wear and tear pitching puts on that particular joint. He was a time bomb waiting to go off. And all he did was risk making the damage worse by trying to pitch through it.
I believe Garcia has been unfairly criticized as a "head case" in some quarters when he was pitching with one arm tied behind his back. Before his last two starts in 2013, we got a glimpse of vintage Garcia, a guy who has a career .609 winning percentage and who still is only a 26-year-old pitcher.
He ought to have a good career ahead of him... IF the surgery went as well as we have been led to believe.