(BaseballStL) — Jaime Garcia’s season officially came to an end Tuesday, as the club announced he will have surgery to deal with thoracic outlet syndrome.
GM John Mozeliak spoke before the game and announced the surgery date is set for Friday in St. Louis. Garcia, speaking in the tunnel to the clubhouse an hour and a half before game time, said he felt he reached his last resort, and decided to take it.
“After meeting with the two best specialists in the country, they both highly recommended to do the surgery,” he said, adding any other options would only delay the procedure, not prevent it.
Mozeliak said he respected the lefty’s decision to go under the knife, lamenting only the loss of a pitcher who, at times, was extremely effective.
“When he’s on he’s very good. One of the more unhittable pitchers we have,” he said. “You look at that game in Toronto, you certainly were encouraged he was someone that could be contributing for a while.”
Garcia went seven shutout innings, giving up three hits and fanning four on June 8 against the Blue Jays, and appeared to be near 100 percent. Unfortunately, that moment was the exception to an otherwise shaky season health wise.
“I was in control of my body,” he said. “The only time I was in control that well.” From that point on, things began to deteriorate quickly.
“I think every single start I went out there things would just get worse and worse as the game went on,” Garcia said. “The last two starts, the symptoms started to increase. We were not just talking about numbness, you lose some feeling with pitches. We’re talking about pain and tingling on a different nerve which is not the one that controls that hand. Obviously tingling in the neck, shooting in the hand and other stuff that came out that I knew had to be addressed.”
Finally, he went to doctors in search of answers. After multiple opinions, he decided on surgery.
The procedure is very invasive, and involves removal of the first rib in order to alleviate pressure on the nerves of the shoulder and arm. While recovery time is three to four months, it’s still a daunting operation for a player.
“It took me a lot to convince myself that I had to do that. Because they’re taking a bone out of your body and I don’t think anyone wants to do that,” he said. “We’re not just talking about my career, we’re talking about after baseball with this stuff.” Garcia said at his worst he was having issues sleeping and would wake up with numbness in his arm. It even began to affect his daily routine. The idea of thoracic outlet syndrome wasn’t one he ever considered, having no knowledge the condition existed before doctors told him.
“This whole time, I wasn’t informing the team, I wasn’t informing the doctors because I had no clue. I thought that was just coming from my shoulder and I thought that was just part of having shoulder issues,” he said.
There’s no clear answer on how long Garcia has unknowingly suffered from the condition or whether his shoulder problems are connected, but doctors told him there’s a chance he has been suffering for awhile.
“A couple years ago, I couldn’t feel my hand, I couldn’t feel where the ball was going. Those are symptoms of this syndrome,” he said. “I can’t sit here and say I’ve had it for two years, because I don’t know. Before this year I had no idea this syndrome even existed. This is just what I got.”
With the surgery, Garcia believes he will finally be healthy for 2015. After speaking with six pitchers who have gone through the operation and rehab, including Chris Carpenter, the newly 28-year-old said he’s confident he can return.
“It gives you some kind of understanding, some answers to what’s going on, and there’s a way to improve,” he said. “I’m already thinking in my mind I’ll be ready to go next year. There’s no doubt in my mind after talking to the other guys.”