PHILADELPHIA — Christian Garcia has made quite an impression on the Washington Nationals in his brief time at the major league level. His repertoire has been so strong that the Nationals are considering converting him back into a starting pitcher for the 2013 season.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson discussed the possible plan on Monday, noting that the Nationals’ depth in elite starting pitching in the minor leagues is not great and that Garcia’s ability is such that the team feels he’d be wasted in the bullpen.
Garcia was non-commital on the idea, though, leaving it to be pondered another time.
“I’m not really thinking about that right now,” he said Tuesday. “I’m just thinking about getting better and performing on the mound. That’s something I’ll think about it in the offseason.
“It’s up to them what they want me to do.”
Garcia was a starting pitcher for the first seven years of his minor league career, as he underwent two Tommy John surgeries and another procedure where he had a bone spur shaved down and a nerve moved. When he joined the Nationals in 2011, he became a reliever exclusively.
It’s the way he became a major leaguer, too.
“Right now I really like relieving,” Garcia said. “When I was a starter, I loved starting. I could control the game. The game was on me, and I liked that, too. Each job has its perks. Whichever one they want me to do, I’ll be more than happy doing it.”
Johnson noted that becoming a starting pitcher might be better for the long-term health of his surgically-repaired elbow as the routine is more regular and less grueling on a day-to-day basis.
Garcia said he couldn’t really judge from experience whether or not that might be the case for him until he tried to be a starter again.
“I think my elbow situation the first time around, not that it wasn’t properly done, I just think it didn’t catch as well,” he said. “This time around, it’s night and day the effects I feel on my arm. My elbow is never sore. My shoulder, elbow, it’s never sore. I wouldn’t know until I was to do it next year (whether starting or relieving was tougher on it). Then I would know better.”