The Tigers held their first official workout for pitchers and catchers in Lakeland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Robin Buckson, Detroit News
Lakeland, Fla. — The news wasn’t unexpected, nor was it good.
Right-handed pitcher Bryan Garcia, rated as the 22nd-best prospect in the Tigers organization by MLB.com, will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday. The 22-year-old Garcia, who was expected to start the season at Triple-A Toledo, was examined by Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday and it was determined he had a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament.
Typically, pitchers need between 11 and 18 months to recover from Tommy John surgery.
Garcia was initially examined by Dr. Andrews last fall and was advised to stop throwing for an extended period of time.
“We went through it last fall,” said Tigers director of player development David Littlefield said last week. “He had some discomfort, we shut him down and he went to see Dr. Andrews, who recommended a conservative treatment where he stopped throwing.”
Toward the end of September, Garcia started throwing again and felt fine. The Tigers instructed him not to throw over the winter and just focus on strength and conditioning.
“He began throwing again in January and after the first couple of bullpens felt OK,” Littlefield said. “But as he progressed and started ramping up his throwing he had some pain.”
Garcia, the all-time saves leader at University of Miami, sped through the Tigers system last season — going from Single A to Triple A, compiling a 2.13 ERA, allowing just 36 hits and two home runs in 55 innings, with 78 strikeouts.
Garcia, 22, was a sixth-round pick in 2016.
GOODRUM A GOOD FIT?
Super-utility player Niko Goodrum walked into the Tigers clubhouse for the first time Wednesday carrying two Minnesota Twins duffel bags.
“Yeah, I might need to get some new ones,” he said.
Goodrum, who made his big-league debut with the Twins last season, was one of the first non-roster invitees the Tigers brought in back in November. He, along with former Indian Ronny Rodriguez and veterans Alexi Amarista and Pete Kozma are battling for one or two utility spots.
“I just feel like this is a good opportunity for me,” he said. “I could have stayed with the Twins or whatever, I just wanted an opportunity to play and help a big-league team. That’s what I want for my career now.”
He came up as a shortstop, but he is comfortable everywhere on the field, he said, except catcher and pitcher. He will likely get a lot of outfield reps, as well.
“Last year I played so many spots I was comfortable moving around,” he said. “I will do whatever the team needs.”
He was in the Twins dugout last September when former Tigers utility man Andrew Romine played all nine positions at Target Field.
“That was cool,” he said. “All props to him. I know I wouldn’t try to catch. I’m not trying to get back there.”
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was actively involved in his first official workout Wednesday, taking part in pitcher’s fielding drills.
“He can move around a little bit,” Michael Fulmer said. “I didn’t expect that. I think he yelled out ‘Oklahoma shuffle’ one time when he was throwing the ball to me.”
Both Gardenhire and Fulmer are proud Oklahomans.
“It’s fake hustle,” Gardenhire said with a smile. “I try real hard so they will. It’s fun being on a baseball field.”
He gave a short address to the assembled pitchers and catchers before the workout.
“I had the jitters,” he said. “I caught myself speaking really fast to the team. I said, 'This is going to be short and sweet,' but I knew I was really talking fast. That was part of my anxiety chomping up and ready to go. When I finished, I didn't even remember what I stinkin' said. I hope it was good.”
Once on the field, he didn’t like how quiet it was.
“We need music,” he said. “It’s so dead out there. Birds flying by and they’re not even talking. We always used to have music playing. We’re Detroit, we need some Motown.”
He said the operations staff will put up some speakers and pipe music during the workouts.
“Under control music,” he said. “This is a family baseball team. But there is a lot of sound in baseball. We need some sound.”