PHILADELPHIA - Much was made of Davey Johnson’s quote yesterday, saying that he plans on resting some of his starters once the Nationals clinch the NL East title.
Johnson isn’t there yet, though. So, he plans on using anyone and everyone necessary today against the Phillies, including reliever Christian Garcia, who dealt with some biceps tightness recently.
“He’s available. Everybody’s available,” Johnson said. “And everybody’s going to be available tomorrow. ... They’re all available. We win five games, then I’ll rest some people.”
Speaking of Garcia, Johnson said yesterday that the Nats are considering making the 27-year-old a starter after the season.
This came as a bit of a surprise because of Garcia’s injury history (he’s twice had Tommy John surgery) and effectiveness as a reliever since his call-up to the majors this season. But Johnson feels that Garcia has the repertoire to succeed as a starter and thinks that the more consistent pitching schedule could benefit a guy who has had injury issues in the past.
Johnson also said that Garcia told pitching coach Steve McCatty that he would prefer to remain in the bullpen (a stance Johnson understands, given that Garcia made it to the big leagues as a reliever), but today, Garcia said he will keep an open mind if the Nats ask him to switch roles.
“Not really thinking about that right now,” Garcia said. “Just thinking about getting better and performing now. That’s next year. I’ll think about it in the offseason.
“It’s up to them, what they want me to do. I just like to play baseball. If they want me to relieve or start, it’s up to them.”
Making a move from the ‘pen would require Garcia go back down to the minors next season to build his arm strength and work on mixing in his secondary pitches.
“It’d be an adjustment but, at the end of the day, it’s just playing baseball, pitching, doing what I love,” Garcia said. “So I can’t complain.”
Garcia came up as a starter and stayed in that role after his first Tommy John surgery. He appeared in 14 games in 2008 at three different levels of the Yankees’ minor league system, 13 of which were starts. He was converted to a reliever after his second Tommy John and started pitching exclusively out of the ‘pen in 2011.
Which role does he prefer?
“Right now, I really like relieving, but when I was a starter, I liked starting because I can control the game and the game was on me,” he said. “I like that, too. Each job has its perks, and whichever one they want me to do, I’ll be more than happy doing it.”
Garcia has appeared in 54 games this season and thrown 60 1/3 innings, by far his heaviest workload since becoming a reliever. He said the biceps tightness popped up recently, but he now feels strong and fresh despite all the work.
“I feel great,” Garcia said. “I worked really hard this offseason, and I think that’s what’s helped me this whole season. I feel as fresh as I did when I started the season.”
For more on Garcia, check out Byron Kerr’s interview with Double-A Harrisburg’s pitching coach Paul Menhart here.
Game Update: Ross Detwiler has been all over the place through the first three innings, and he has his team in a 5-1 hole.
After surrendering just one earned run in each of his last two starts, Detwiler gave up a Darin Ruf solo homer in the second (the first major league hit and home run for Ruf, who then got a lengthy serving of the silent treatment in the Phillies dugout) and then allowed the first four hitters he faced in the third to all score.
Detwiler has walked three hitters and hasn’t been able to locate his two-seam fastball nearly as well today as he has in the past couple months.