Flying under radar, Garcia a key for Cardinals

Flying under radar, Garcia a key for Cardinals

Flying under radar, Garcia a key for Cardinals
JUPITER, Fla. -- Sandwiched in the rotation between two aces and another pair of proven veterans, Jaime Garcia stands to be a key member of the Cardinals' pitching staff, even if he consumes much less of the limelight than his fellow starters.

With so much attention on Adam Wainwright's return, Chris Carpenter's durability and Jake Westbrook's weight loss this spring, Garcia has spent the last few weeks simply getting himself ready for the season, without many accompanying headlines.

Garcia, 25, has now pitched two full seasons since wrapping up his recovery from Tommy John surgery, putting him in a place where many believe he should be ready for a sizable step forward in growth and results. Making substantial improvement isn't a given, though, particularly because of how high Garcia has already set the bar.

In his first two full seasons in the Majors, Garcia is 26-15 with a 3.17 ERA in 60 starts. Of all the National League starters who have accrued 300 innings over the past two seasons, only 11 have posted a lower ERA than Garcia's. No other Cardinals starter is on that list.

"I already know myself, and I already know what I need to do to be successful and what I've done to get me to the big leagues," Garcia said. "It's about maturing and being able to make adjustments. I'm trying to get to the point where I can be my own coach and make adjustments and basically do what works."

Garcia was one of 10 pitchers to throw a side session on Friday, and he is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut next week.

"I'm trying to prove myself out on the field -- don't get satisfied, don't get comfortable," he said. "I'm still battling to try and make the team. I am working as hard as I can every day to get better."