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Sports

June 14, 2014

Spinners' Garcia fights back from Tommy John surgery

Garcia's return from Tommy John surgery highlights Spinners' opening day

LOWELL — It was a start more than a year in the making, the start that Red Sox minor leaguer Jason Garcia dreamed of every night, and visualized as he worked his way through months of intense rehab.

Finally the wait was over, and the righty could officially return to the mound.

“It has been just about 13 months since I really pitched,” said Garcia before last night’s season opener with the Lowell Spinners. “It has been forever since I was under the lights, and I had been counting the days. It was rough and it’s a dream come true to finally be back on the mound.”

Last May, Garcia’s career was in jeopardy when a major injury to his right, throwing elbow forced him to undergo ligament replacement “Tommy John” surgery.

But after the long wait, Garcia returned to the mound, pitching four innings, striking out five and allowing no earned runs as the Spinners beat the Vermont Lake Monsters 7-2.

“There were a lot of strong emotions,” said Garcia. “I was trying not to get too excited and hold it down. But it was really thrilling after everything that happened.”

Garcia was projected to go as high as the second round in the 2010 MLB draft after a stellar career at Land O’Lakes (Fla.) High School, where he posted 107 strikeouts and a 1.46 ERA as a senior. But after indicating he would choose to pitch for Florida Atlantic University, teams initially passed.

The Red Sox took a flyer on Garcia in the 17th round, but initially Garcia was unsure if he should sign.

“I was obviously very excited to be drafted because that was my dream,” he said. “But I was also very confused if I should go to college or go pro. But I talked to my parents and scouts and I decided pro ball was the best choice for me.”

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