"I feel great," said Christian Garcia, "real good right now. My elbow has felt better than it ever has before."
"I've always had a little something in my elbow. I've always had something that irritated my elbow. When I threw the ball, I always felt something. It might not have been pain, but it was always something. Now I feel absolutely zero pain in my elbow."
Five weeks into his 16-week throwing program, tossing 50 throws from 60-feet on flat surfaces during that time and scheduled to throw from that distance for another two weeks, Garcia says his elbow had bothered him for quite some time prior to his Tommy John surgery.
"Yeah I've had it for a while," he said of irritation in his elbow. "I've had a huge history with my elbow. My first year I sat out two weeks because of my elbow in the GCL, then I had it in Charleston in '05, then in '06 I had the Tommy John surgery."
Finally throwing pain free, while he is limited to tossing just fastballs at the current time, he no longer has any restrictions in the gym. He is able to lift weights, including all upper-body exercises, just like any other person.
"I'm doing great," said the 21-year old. "I feel very positive. I feel like I'm going to comeback better than what I was before. I can't tell right now if I'm going to comeback throwing harder, I can't tell you that. But I feel great, I don't feel pain right now. I'm in the early stages of the process right now so pain can come in at any point, but right now I feel great and mentally I feel awesome."
One of the positives Garcia speaks of is squashing any concerns he had that he might lose some of his movement or pop with his fastball.
"I don't think I'm going to lose a thing," he said of his stuff. "Before I was thinking 'am I going to lose movement on my fastball, is it going to come out of my hand the same way as before'. That was one of my big pluses, how the ball came out of my hand, it whipped out. People say when you have Tommy John to tend to lose your movement or the way the ball jumps out of your hand, but you may be able to throw the same speed."
"Right now I'm putting something on the ball," he continued. "I'm not throwing a blooper, I actually put something on the ball when I throw. Gil Pattterson and the other guys say I look like I used to throw. The ball jumps right out of my hand and I still have the movement. You see my ball tail and stuff."
Not only does everything feel the same to his pre-surgery days, but Garcia has been told everything looks the same.
"That was great," he said of his movement. "It felt like it did when I used to throw but I wanted to make sure it looked like it did and I can't see myself. I asked around to Steven White and other people and they all said, 'it looks the same, it looks just like it used to look'. That was very encouraging to hear that everything looked the same."
The schedule has him moving back to 90-feet in about two weeks, a distance he'll throw for another four to six weeks. After that he moves to 120-feet for roughly the same period of time.
The rough timetable has him up on a rehab mound at some point towards the end of July, which means he will be at the minor league complex in Tampa for the foreseeable future.
"I love it," Garcia said of working out at the complex. The strength and conditioning coaches are great. They're awesome guys to work with. They push me, which is awesome. They're making me better every day."
"A lot of people deny they need that push but I know I need it, so it's always good to have somebody push you there. And having Nardi [Contreras] and Gil [Patterson] and all those big pitching coaches there is great for when I start getting closer to getting on the mound, working out my mechanics, dry drills, and stuff like that. It will help me to have them there."
While fans would love a speedy recovery for Garcia, he's quick to point out there is no such thing with Tommy John surgery.
"That's a guarantee, I won't pitch this season," Garcia reaffirmed. "I'll be lucky if I get to throw in Instructs. There's nothing I can do to speed up the process. The process is going to take as long as it's going to take because it's written down. The only thing I can do is make sure I keep it on the same track. There's a course you have to follow."
Steadfast in his goal to come back better than ever, despite being in the early stages of his rehab, Garcia remains very positive.
"I feel great. Everything feels positive right now," he concluded.
Everything Feels Positive For Garcia
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