Johnson: Garcia closer to pitching in games

Right-hander Christian Garcia has continued to make progress at extended spring training in his recovery from a partially torn tendon in his right forearm. According to manager Davey Johnson, Garcia could be less than two weeks from a rehab assignment.

“He has been throwing off the mound quite a bit,” said Johnson. “Mostly the reports I have been getting is (he is throwing) fastball, changeup, tomorrow he will mix in curveballs. After he does that, he will throw to hitters (in) batting practice.

“(Then) he will be ready to go and join a team. I would say he has another 10 days of doing that. He will probably join Syracuse.”

Johnson said the Nationals are being extra cautious with Garcia, and he is “basically going through regular spring training all over again.”

During spring training, there was a lot of talk of stretching Garcia out to become a starter. He has the stuff and the various pitches necessary to be successful in that role. Last season, he was a reliever with the Nationals.

But this injury might have altered those plans. Johnson said it depends on what the organization needs at the top levels once Garcia is healthy.

“Everybody in the front office was in agreement going into the spring,” Johnson said of Garcia becoming a starter. “But we never got there. Now he won’t be under my wing. It will be more a need at Triple-A.

“If he is going to be a starter, he probably needs to stay down in extended spring training and stretch out before he joins a club. We haven’t got to the point where (GM MIke Rizzo) and I have talked about (it).”

Bottom line: The health update is a good one on Garcia’s right forearm. And he could be pitching for Triple-A Syracuse by late May.

“He has been fine,” Johnson said . “I get a report every day saying, ‘He feels great.’ ”

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