JUPITER, FL. (KMOV.com) – While the Cardinals and the Red Sox battled on the main diamond at the Cards’ Jupiter complex, Jaime Garcia was quietly working on his own on a back field.
Garcia threw 75 pitches against the team’s Triple A squad, opting to work at his own pace instead of starting the game for the big league team. The lefty said Sunday that he wanted to throw on a back field in order to have more control on what he worked on as a tool to get ready for opening day. Working in what amounted to a scrimmage game gave him the opportunity to throw pitches in certain situations that he might not throw in a game, and also to work more out of the stretch. The Cardinals noted that John Lackey did the same thing last year.
“It went real good,” the upbeat Garcia said following his work. “I wanted to work out of the stretch and on my fastball command on both sides of the plate.”
In minor league intrasquad games, innings can be ended when pitchers reach a certain per-inning pitch count and pitchers can set up situations they want to work on if they desire. Garcia chose to pitch as though it were a regular game, but due to an error and some close pitches that didn’t go his way, he put the lead-off man on base in each of the first three innings, allowing him to work out of the stretch. He was crisp for much of the time, but yielded two runs on four hits, including a well-hit triple over the center fielder’s head and a line drive up the middle that passed perilously close to him.
Garcia threw fastballs in the high 80s and topped out at 92 mph, according to post-game reports. He threw several breaking balls in the dirt as he worked on keeping the breaking ball down and had several fastballs just off the plate. He said he made 2-3 mistakes, including the pitch that was roped to the center field wall.
Regarding that triple, he said it was not on a pitch he would normally throw in that sequence, but was something he wanted to work on. “The trouble with throwing to minor leaguers is that they all want to show they can hit major league pitching so they swing at pitches major leaguers would not. Triple A players know the zone better and what they are trying to do.” He said major league players look for certain pitches in certain situations and that allows him to work on certain spots.
Opposing Garcia was Alex Reyes, the Cards’ best minor league pitching prospect, who is currently serving a 50-game suspension, reportedly for marijuana use. Reyes can pitch in games in which admission is not charged. The big righthander threw easy gas, easily topping 90 mph on several pitches and occasionally showing a crisp breaking ball. He left several pitches up, however, and while his mechanics and velocity appeared polished, he clearly needed more work at the lower levels.
Cardinal speedster Charlie Tilson hit the ball well against Garcia, making contact in all three plate appearances, slapping one base hit and reaching again on a tough infield chance. He also stole a base and scored a run.
Still, Garcia was very upbeat about his performance, saying he wanted to go one or two more hitters, but regardless, he felt his performance accomplished what he intended. “I’m getting ready to go,” he said.