Currently throwing on a flat surface from 120 feet, Christian Garcia says his rehab is going very well and the next step will be to pitch off of the shorter rehab mound, which is scheduled to happen in two weeks. If all goes well, he could find himself on a regular pitching mound two weeks after that.
"I feel great, real strong," he said of his recovery. "I can't wait. I was talking about it the other day to somebody, 'remember when you have bullpens?'. I don't think I'll ever complain about another bullpen session. I'm so excited to get on a mound. It's just much more fun [than rehabbing]."
"It doesn't have a tilt to it, it's going straight, and it's going a long ways," he said of throwing from 120 feet at the current time. "I'll put something on it. I won't throw every one super hard but I'll put something on it pretty hard."
Using the time off from pitching to get himself into better physical condition by working out the other muscles around his arm, Garcia is extremely pleased with how well he has been responding.
"Yeah I know I could," he said if he feels strong enough to throw an inning in a game right now. "But to actually go until the seventh [inning], no, I couldn't do that. I tell myself I could, but I know my arm probably couldn't. My body could take that, my arm couldn't."
Feeling physically strong, Garcia admits his bout with Tommy John surgery served as his wake-up call to do more than just the minimum required.
"Yeah," he said if he's learning anything from him Tommy John surgery, "that you get just one shot. I was lucky to get this second shot. There's a lot of things that go into maintaining an arm that I didn't do before."
"I can speak for myself and say I didn't do them before. I didn't do half of the things, maybe even a third of the things, that I do now, like my shoulder exercises and stuff."
In fact, Garcia believes that all of the extra exercises that go into coming back from Tommy John surgery are the reasons why pitchers come back stronger than ever, not the actual surgery itself.
"That's why they say people come back throwing harder because they strengthen the other muscles, like the shoulders, the forearms, and the back muscles," he said. "Now you come back throwing harder and people think it's because you got a new ligament.
"It's not, it's because you're working out things that other people haven't and you weren't doing it before when you were fine. You learn to take care of your body better, you've got to be working out more, and stay in better shape. And it's not always about doing so much."
"You remember last offseason when I did all of this working out? When I got back into the season I wound up pulling my oblique muscle, a freak injury like that," he continued. "You ask yourself 'how can this happen after I just got myself into the best shape?'."
"Sometimes you need rest, there's other things that go into it. You've got to go to sleep early, you need rest, you need your body to recuperate, and you've got to work hard during the times you are working."
If it sounds like Garcia has taken a more professional approach to his career as a result of the injury, it's because he has. He believes the biggest positive of his Tommy John surgery is the mental growth he has achieved.
In fact, seeing his friends like Chase Wright and Tyler Clippard make the big leagues this season, and first year pros Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy make their way all the way up to Triple-A in one season, has helped inspire Garcia to come back stronger than ever.
"I think I could totally do that," Garcia said of having the type of advancement Kennedy and Chamberlain have had this year upon his return. "If I didn't, I wouldn't be playing. Mentally I'm as strong as I possibly can be."
"I might not feel the best everyday, but I'll be stronger than everybody else. I'll be mentally tough to go out there whether my arm is feeling 100 percent or it isn't. Obviously I'm going to put myself in the best spot to make myself the best, working out, getting in shape, and doing everything possible I can to make myself feel great."
"Yeah, I see myself going up just like that," he reiterated. "If I put up the numbers they did, and I don't see why I wouldn't, because I still think my stuff is going to be just as good if not better, I can do the same thing."
Feeling physically stronger everyday and as mentally prepared as he ever has been, while he realizes there's still no chance of him pitching in an official minor league game this season, his goal is still to face live batters before the calendar year is over.
"Yeah I would say so," he said if he's still on target to face live batters by the Instructional League. "At Instructs I'll definitely face some batters. I don't know if it's going to be a game situation or what, but it will at least be our hitters up there in a simulated game or a [live] batting practice."
Garcia Nearing Rehab Milestone
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