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Chalk up a victory for Jaime Garcia

For some reason some people like to badmouth St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia as a "headcase" or someone who isn't exactly lionhearted when it comes to competition.

I've never really bought into those claims because I think Garcia's a pretty darn good pitcher when he's healthy, something he hasn't been for a couple of years thanks to shoulder trouble.

Regardless, of what people think about him on the mound, I ran across an interesting story on the internet about what's really going on between his ears and what sort of heart he has beating in his chest.

Long story short, Garcia dug deep into his own pocket this winter to help a family of a woman struggling against cancer. And then he spent time mentoring the children of the woman, Claudia Hernandez of Pharr, Texas.

For all the griping we've heard this winter about the Cardinals signing Jhonny Peralta to a free agent contract after his 50-game suspension for being linked to a performance enhancing drug clinic, it would seem that people ought to be over the moon to have a nice guy like Garcia in the fold.

One of my biggest hopes for the 2014 season is that Garcia will report to spring training 100 percent healthy and have a huge year. Garcia had some of the nastiest stuff on the Cardinals pitching staff before his shoulder started to let go a season and a half ago. One can never be sure how a shoulder will respond to treatment. You could get results like Chris Carpenter got after having major shoulder surgery in 2003 before coming back to win the Cy Young Award two years later. Or you could have results like Mark Mulder who was on top of the world in 2005 only to have his shoulder blow out and never make it back to 100 percent.

Still, it's good news to hear that the Redbirds expect Garcia to be ready to pitch without restrictions by the start of spring training.

With a bumper crop of flamethrowers from the right side of the rubber, it would be a great weapon for the Birds to have a curveballing southpaw to mix things up a little bit.

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