Garcia top hired gun for '08 stretch run
The best remaining pitcher on the free-agent market is not David Wells, it's Freddy Garcia. The righthander, who had surgery to repair his throwing shoulder on Aug. 30, will step on the mound Thursday and begin the final laps to a return that should occur sometime around the All-Star break.
Garcia could have signed with a team last winter and received paychecks during his rehabilitation. But his agents, brothers Peter and Edward Greenberg and Chris Leible, wanted to follow the trend set by Roger Clemens in 2006 and 2007, and Garcia, financially secure, blessed that strategy.
"We felt it was going to be a better situation for him moving forward," Leible said Friday in a telephone interview. "People are a lot more interested, and there's greater need than in January or February. We're hoping he's going be a big help to somebody down the stretch."
At some point soon, Garcia, who turns 33 in June, will invite teams to watch him pitch near his Miami home. As long as he exhibits good health, he figures to set off a considerable battle for his services.
True, Garcia put up terrible numbers for the Phillies last year, going 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts. But he tried to pitch through his shoulder discomfort. Garcia's body of work - he compiled 200 or more innings in 1999, then 2001-06 - displays his reliability.