The day after he came within two out of a complete game in his last start, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia took a couple of moments to reflect on his performance this season.

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“I’m extremely grateful and thankful, first of all, with God to happen to have an opportunity to still be able to do what I love to do and to be a part the St. Louis Cardinals,” began Garcia. “That’s definitely something I don’t take for granted. I’m extremely excited to be part of this team and the great season we’re having. I’m just really humbled and excited about the opportunity I have right now.”

That appreciation is understandable as tonight will mark the 12th start of the season for the left-hander, who due to injury had been able to make just 16 starts over the last two seasons. The highs and lows of dealing with the injuries and recovery process have tested Garcia, but also allowed him to discover a deeper and stronger faith.

“Definitely, a lot,” said Garcia. “Going through the trials and going through difficult moments in life is what makes you stronger and makes you who you are. Right now, I can say I’m so thankful for everything that’s happened in my career and in my life. I wouldn’t be where I’m at spiritually right now, I’m in a great spot.”

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona DiamondbacksGarcia is 5-4 on the season, but the Cardinals have been shut out in four of his starts and have only scored a total of 26 runs in his 11 starts. He owns a 1.57 ERA for the season and opponents are just hitting .191 against him.

“I always set higher expectations than what people expect out of me,” said Garcia, who his not surprised by what he’s accomplishing. “I’m a huge believer that with hard work and humility, great things happen. But at the same time, it’s only a few games and we still have a little more season to go and hopefully playoffs and will try to continue to do the same thing.”

The movement on his pitches has always been a key to success, but in particular this season there seems to be some additional bite to his offerings. Could that be a result of the thoracic outlet syndrome surgery providing a mechanical bonus?

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“I think it’s just always re-inventing yourself,” said Garcia. “I’ve had some movements during my career, but not like right now. I’ve talked to a lot of guys like Adam Wainwright and Carpenter about learning your body and knowing yourself. I’m a guy that’s always paying attention to what my body’s doing, what my pitches are doing, watching video and paying attention to little things. That’s something I’ve been able to pick up on my own. Little things that I do different with my hand–mechanics allow that movement to happen. It’s not a natural thing, it’s not something that I was gifted with. There’s adjustments that I’ve had to make and figure out on my own.”

Clearly showing more comfort and confidence that injuries have allowed in past seasons, Garcia isn’t getting caught up looking behind or too far ahead of where he’s at.

“I’m a guy that can go home and look at myself in the mirror and know that even after everything that I’ve gone through, there’s nothing that I could’ve done different to be healthy or things that I could’ve worked harder or done things better, because I was fully committed to this thing inside and outside the field doing everything that’s in my control to be the best that I can,” he said.

“I’m able to go lay my head down on my pillow at night knowing I’m doing everything in my control. Same thing right now, I’m still the same guy with the same attitude–trying to work as hard as I can every single day and continue to do the same thing. Everything else is out of my control.”

Garcia is under contract through the end of the season with team options for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

“Not really,” answered Garcia if that has crept into his mind. “For me, I’m not even thinking about September. Right now, I’m thinking about August and talking about my next start. That’s all. Ready for my next game and then after that, I’ll worry about the following one and see what happens.”

Garcia starts tonight for the Cardinals against the San Francisco Giants, first pitch set for 6:15pm CT.

photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

 

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