Making his first appearance since injuring his shoulder in the playoffs, the left-hander got through two shutout innings Tuesday as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox 15-4.
In Game 2 of the NL division series against Washington, Garcia was pulled after two innings because of a strained rotator cuff and inflammation.
Garcia kept the Red Sox scoreless, working around three hits and a walk. He threw 43 pitches, 30 for strikes, and struck out two.
"I'm excited about today," Garcia said. "This is good, but I'm not going to sit here and tell you this is the best I've ever felt. No. This is good. This is good enough. I'm excited about that. But compared to last year, this is something I can build on."
Garcia gave up consecutive singles to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava to open the game before retiring the next three batters, including Ryan Lavarnway on a strikeout.
With one out in the second, Garcia walked Drew Sutton and gave up a double to Jose Iglesias before getting out of the inning, fanning Bradley to end the inning.
"To be honest with you, there was some excitement going on there especially because it was the first time in a real game after the stuff that happened last year," Garcia said. "A lot of good things from it. Physically, I feel fine. A little jumpy at the beginning. I was happy with the way I felt physically, with the way it went."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was pleased with what he saw from Garcia.
"I made a commitment to myself not to microscope him," Matheny said. "I just know he's going to be out there. He's going to do the things that he says he's going to be out there to do. He looked good today."
Boston starter Ryan Dempster made his Grapefruit League debut against a familiar foe. He has appeared in 49 career games against the Cardinals, more than any other active pitcher.
Signed as a free agent in the offseason, he pitched two hitless innings and struck out two. He threw 33 pitches, 24 for strikes. The only runner against him was Oscar Tavares, who reached on an error by second baseman Jonathan Diaz.
"Things went good," Dempster said. "Felt like body and arm felt good. Was able to attack the strike zone for the most part. Good first day."
Red Sox manager John Farrell enjoyed Dempster's outing.
"He threw the ball well, established his fastball, showed a good split against righties and lefties both," Farrell said. "Went out and did exactly what we hoped he'd do in two innings of work."
"He was clean. Did a good job of controlling the running game. I thought he threw the ball very well for his first outing in camp," he said.
Red Sox reliever Clayton Mortensen took the loss, allowing three runs on two hits and two walks in two innings. Tony Cruz hit a three-run double with two outs in the third.
"I thought he threw the ball better than the line shows," Farrell said.
Matt Adams, who had been slowed by tendinitis in his knee, had a two-run, pinch-hit homer for the Cardinals. He later drew a bases-loaded walk.
"He's got big-time power," Matheny said. "He's got a pretty good idea of the strike zone and a pretty good idea of his swing and he repeats it."
NOTES: Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz, who had been slowed by a right hamstring strain on the first day of official workouts for pitchers and catchers, threw a two-inning, 40-pitch simulated game Tuesday morning. He is expected to start Saturday against the Twins. ... Boston 1B Mike Napoli is expected to get into his first game on Friday when the Red Sox host the Pirates. Napoli, who joined Boston as a free agent this offseason, is being brought along slowly this after his team physical revealed he has avascular necrosis in both hips. ... Farrell didn't rule out the possibility of Bradley, one of Boston's top prospects, making the team out of spring training. Bradley, who was promoted to Double-A during the season last year, will get some games in right field when Shane Victorino leaves for the World Baseball Classic. ... Switch-hitting SS Rafael Furcal reported he felt fine after taking some swings left-handed on Monday. Furcal, who tore a ligament in his right elbow last season and has been bothered by a bone spur this spring, received an anti-inflammatory injection in the joint on Friday. He said he could get into a game this weekend for the Cardinals.