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Christian Garcia: Starter or reliever?

Feb 2, 2013, 1:00 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Sports Images

During a press conference at Nationals Park last September, manager Davey Johnson revealed the team’s plans to convert 27-year-old relief pitcher Christian Garcia into a starter. The decision was predicated on Garcia’s repertoire of three strong pitches and a looming shift in the organization's pitching depth.
Months later at NatsFest, reporters had the chance to talk to Garcia about the switch, but according to him he hasn’t heard what his role will be on the 2013 Nationals.
“I have no idea. Wherever they want to put me to play I am okay with it. Whatever I can help the team, any spot they need help with I would love to help in any way I can. So if it is starting, relieving, whatever it is.”
Garcia said that neither path really changes his offseason workout, that his training program will continue as is until he hears otherwise. He is currently training in Tampa, FL at the Performance Compound with Tyler Clippard and former Nats lefty John Lannan. 
As far as 2013 goes, Garcia is flexible to start or come out of the bullpen and has no real preference either way.
“I love relieving, I love it. Definitely late inning relieving, I love it. I like the pressure, I like that kind of stress, it’s just the kind of person I am.”
“Starter, it’s definitely different,” he said. “I got nine guys to worry about and remember all nine. There is a lot more thought that goes into starting than there is relieving, but I am up for the challenge either way.”

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  1. UnkyD - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    I like having this Ace in the hole…:)

  2. JamesFan - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    I like him in the pen. He is obviously very good there, comfortable and it puts less pressure on that second TJ surgery. He is obviously an alternative starter, but that is a second priority. Split the difference and make him the long reliever.

  3. sjm308 - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Chase: Thank you for giving us a new post on the week-end and I am certainly not one to evaluate or judge but I enjoy your writing and I think you should be proud of your work.On Garcia, I wonder if they will actually listen to him? He was really really solid last year coming out of the pen and obviously that is his first choice. I think that is a big part of a players success, being comfortable in a role. I do understand that he was a starter before the Tommy John operations but don't you think that is also in the back of his mind? I am one of few who likes HRod to come north but if he is wild and unpredictable, wouldn't it be better to bring up Garcia and find another #6 starter?Go Nats!!

  4. UnkyD - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Relievers throw fewer pitches (obviously), but they throw harder… It may be a mistake to think the bullpen is easier on his arm…

  5. JayB - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Tony - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    It's a shame Mark didn't make it to his dead grandmother's bedside in time to get her opinion on all these current issues facing the team. Too soon for a seance?

  7. JayB - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    My bad….I must have missed that sad news. My condolences to Mark and his family. I know from years of reading Marks stuff how close he is to his family. Talk it Chase is doing the posting and reporting lately here?

  8. Scooter - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    JayB, I don't watch the interview videos either, but there's no need to be a [jerk] about it. Some folks enjoy that stuff.

  9. Scooter - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Yes, it's Chase. They sign their posts at the bottom. I often forget to check too, but it's been Chase for about a week or so.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Too late JayB, we read it…. How typical of you to complain with out knowing what the heck is going on.You continue to try to spread your negativism at every opportunity.

  11. Tony - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Now available at your local Borders.Joe Torre: The Yankee YearsTerry Francona: The Red Sox YearsJayB: The My Bad Years

  12. sjm308 - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Well, some of you read it – I can only imagine what eeyore posted. Hope it wasn't too bad. I am guessing Tony's post is in reply to whatever JayB posted.In other news. Since I am desperate for baseball news, I actually read the transactions section in the Post (yes, I still read the actual newspaper) and listed under Minor League signings were some old friends. Marlins just signed up 17 yes, 17 former major leaguers to minor league contracts including Austin Kearns and Jonathon Albaladejo. Mets added Marlon Byrd on a minor league deal and noted he is still looking for his car out at RFK.What a difference in the last few years. Those 17 signings would be what Leather pants would be trying hoping to find at least one or two starters from tht group. Now, we have our 25 man roster pretty well set with great competition just to make the roster. I am wondering if Corey Brown jumps out hot and Bernadina is off playing in the WBC if that will make a difference?Go Nats!! Stay happy eeyore!!

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    I think I wouldn't mind a quiet off-season rest of the way, especially since what we have gotten for last few days.

  14. baseballswami - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    I will take quiet as long as it goes by quickly.

  15. Theophilus T. S. - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Given the lack of quality starter depth — and the possibility, even if small, of a 50-game hole in the rotation, it makes sense to try out Garcia as a starter in ST (he'll be going three innings, max, for the most part anyway) and early at Syracuse. The circumstance in which it would make sense (sorta) to keep him on the 25-man for Opening Day and beyond would be if Gonzalez has been banished for an extended period and Zach Duke is only available depth with starting experience.

  16. Traveler8 - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Swami, at least we're down to single digits on the number of days!

  17. SonnyG10 - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    UnkyD said…Relievers throw fewer pitches (obviously), but they throw harder… It may be a mistake to think the bullpen is easier on his arm…February 02, 2013 8:55 AMI agree with this based on my own experience. As a starting pitcher, I always paced myself to last a whole game. On days when I wasn't pitching and was playing the outfield, I would throw the ball a lot harder (when necessary) that when I pitched. If I had been a reliever and knew I only had to go one inning, I would have thrown my fastball a lot harder. So I can see the potential of injury from being a reliever.

  18. sjm308 - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    I don't disagree with either of you concerning the stress on his shoulder. I am only talking of the mental aspect that this guy is letting us know that he prefers coming out of the pen and that does factor in. Now, he is a pro and still has not established himself so of course he will do whatever the club asks. No matter what, he is a very pleasant plus for our club.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I actually really like Garcia as a late reliever, but especially with the addition of R. Soriano there really is a seeming surplus of RH relievers. I also worry about him going back to logging too many innings as a starter. Tony and JayB could both get back in the line where they hand out discretion.Chase, thanks so much for giving us this day our daily fix.

  20. SonnyG10 - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    Off topic: I requested and received my four free tickets to a Nats ST game. I picked the 11 March game against the Atlanta Braves. If I go I can only use two of the tickets, so if any of you want the other two tickets (for free) let me know. They are in Sect 210, Row 16, seats 3 and 4.

  21. Doc - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Stress or no stress on the much operated wing, CGar would obviously like to be in the pen. I still think that he could have helped us in that fabled 5th game with the hated Cards. The man will tell him what he wants and Christian will do it. Let's hope for the best!Wad ya think NatsJack, does your guy do best starting or coming out of the pen??GooooooooooooooooooooNats!

  22. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Feb 2, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Thanks for the generous offer, Sonny. Too bad for me I won't be there then. Someone else might be.

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 2, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    There's no reason he can't be a starter now that he's had a chance to develope some strength.But I feel much more comfortable with him as a short man for the near term.

  24. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Feb 2, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    9 Days.I'm just saying.

  25. John C. - Feb 2, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    To me, this is a situation where the team's needs easily trump what might be the player's preference. The Nats need rotation depth more than they need bullpen depth, and during the season converting from starting to relieving is easier than going the other way. So Garcia will be stretched out to prepare for service as a starter in Syracuse, and we'll see what happens after that. Condolences to Mark and his family. Family business comes first, the blog will be here when Mark is able to come back.

  26. baseballswami - Feb 2, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    So has the issue of having no lefties in the pen been settled? Think we are going all the way into opening day like this? Rizzo will sift through and find something? Or the Nats will defy conventional practices and take their own path? Again. I have to admit that the rebel in me likes it when the Nats are mavericks.

  27. Tony - Feb 2, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Zach Duke and Bill Bray are lefties. One or both of them will be in the bullpen.

  28. SonnyG10 - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    I have a taker for one of my tickets. I have one ticket left.

  29. natsfan1a - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Didn't see post preceding the one at 9:44 AM but…dang…

  30. baseballswami - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Tony- still not much- just saying'

  31. Kenz aFan - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    You people are a bunch of idiots. To actually brow beat someone who was unaware of what was going on in Mark's life is petty and shameful.Shame on all of you for acting the way you did.So would any of you "well informed" fans like to to tell the rest of us what happened in Bill Ladson's life that caused him to be out of actions recently?

  32. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    it is the lack of understanding that everyone was upset with, not with lack of knowing what had kept Mark away. If one has been visiting this blog for a while, should know your way around here I would think.

  33. sm13 - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    On topic, I have mixed emotions about Garcia. He was a force in the pen late last year and may have found his nitch, not unlike Stammen. If Davey thinks he has the stuff to succeed at starter, well I always give Davey the benefit of the doubt. Given some of the recent ugly attempts to flip a hard-throwing reliever to a starter — Felize in Texas, Bard in Boston — I would be content if he stayed in the pen and added to our incedible depth at that position. On the other hand, we do need starting depth.Thus, my mixed emotions…

  34. baseballswami - Feb 2, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Sm13. As for being on topic- I thank you. As to the topic at hand, Garcia. I think he has the capability of being stretched out if the team needs him. Stammen could also make some starts if need be. They just build up innings each outing. Those would probably be situations where a starter will be missing a few starts. If a starter goes all the way down( hyperventilating as I type), then the organization would make a trade as a more long term fix. I cannot see them using Garcia as a starter in the majors yet and they seem to not want to waste him in Syracuse. It might depend on whether or not we sign or trade for any more bullpen guys. – if we do, we can do without him in the pen and let him learn in AAA.

  35. peric - Feb 2, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    They know they need starting depth MORE than they need relievers at this point. The lack of any serious injury issues with any of the seven to eight starters this past season was very lucky given the number and incidence of injuries that occurred positionally and in the bullpen. (Lannan and Duke should be considered starters 8 & 9 after Gorzo and Stammen at 6 & 7). And they're covered with two converted bullpen types in Ryan Perry and Christian Garcia. Plus Bradley Meyers, Jeff Mandel, and Tanner Roarke in addition to the ubiquitous Duke and Stammen. As far as the bullpen not sure if Hassan Pena and Patrick McCoy will be enough or good enough for that matter. Rafael Martin didn't pan out as expected but then there's converted starter Erik Davis. There's Cameron Selik and Pat Lehman as well. Maybe these pitchers are a lot closer than they seemed last season. And of course there's still H-Rod.I guess this is how things might stack up … they've got some good power arms in the queue depth-wise for the rotation. Got a couple of decent potential relievers as well. It sure seems like Garcia and Perry lineup as the #1 #2 in Syracuse next season along with Mandel at #3.

  36. baseballswami - Feb 2, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    What season is it reasonable to start seeing Lucas Giolito?

  37. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 2, 2013 at 7:46 PM


  38. blovy8 - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Scary as it would seem though, Maya is probably the most ready at AAA.

  39. baseballswami - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    NatsJack -fall of 2016? Or fall of 2015? Would love to see him at Potomac but I don't see the new stadium being ready and Pfitzner is such a hole. I feel that he will be in the Strassie type category. Exciting.

  40. natsfan1a - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    For Kenza (and anyone else who might be interested to see it): Mark wrote a beautiful tribute post about his grandmother before signing off on Tuesday.On topic, man, has Christian ever got the cliches down. Well done, young man. :-)

  41. BigCat - Feb 3, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    His stuff is right up there with Storens….maybe better. All he needs is a chance. From reading Davey's comments about the Soriano signing, I get the impression he felt we didn't need him. I think both Drew and Garcia have better stuff than him. Also HRod. Course, with HRod, you never know where its going

  42. peric - Feb 3, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Johnson wanted Garcia as a hot spare for the rotation.Thus Soriano. Can't rely on Henry finally getting past his jitters and lack of control. But, theoretically he potentially projects as way better than Soriano and Storen. Again, pencil Garcia and Ryan Perry in the Syracuse rotation #1, #2.I think you might see Maya working in relief this season but that'll be up to Beasley. He may prefer Maya as his #5 starter.

  43. peric - Feb 3, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    NatsJack -fall of 2016? Or fall of 2015? Would love to see him at PotomacHe's not a college pitcher like Strasburg and he's coming off of TJ which will require around a 2 year rehab protocol. 2016 sounds about right.





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