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June 14, 2014

Spinners' Garcia fights back from Tommy John surgery

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

(Continued)

At just 17 years old, Garcia made his professional debut in 2010, pitching in nine games in the Gulf Coast League, allowing 16 runs and striking out 17 in 29.3 innings.

A season later, he was promoted to Lowell, where he went 3-3 with a 3.88 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 55.2 innings.

That earned him a promotion to high Single-A Greenville in 2012, but there he experienced an unexplained drop in velocity. He attempted to work through the issues, and struggled to a 6-6 record and 6.16 ERA.

Garcia began the 2013 season again in Greenville, but that was when reality hit and hit hard.

“I was feeling terrific and my velocity was the highest it has been all year,” he remembered. “I was 0-1 on a batter, I threw a slider and I heard a loud pop. I was hoping it wasn’t anything serious. But when the trainer came out and I saw her reaction, it scared me.”

It only became worse when he was taken to the locker room and met with doctors.

“One minute I was on the mound feeling great and the next I was on the trainer’s table, with my arm swelling in the most excruciating pain of my life,” he said. “It was pretty horrific. Within 5 or 10 minutes they were already talking about getting me an MRI and talking about my options for surgery.”

On May 30, 2013, Garcia underwent Tommy John surgery. Just a day later, he began his rehab with doctors stretching out his arm.

“The first six weeks were the most painful,” he said. “I was wearing a brace all the time. After 16 weeks I could start to throw the baseball again. During spring training I started long toss, but the coaches could see I was holding back. I talked to my pitching coach (Paul Abbott), who had Tommy John, and other pitchers that had been through it.”

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