Garcia's injured shoulder worse than thought

Posted: June 12, 2007

Freddy Garcia's season is probably over. His Phillies career likely is, too.

An MRI exam on Garcia's right shoulder yesterday at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital revealed "some pathology" of the labrum and "fraying" of the rotator cuff, the team announced late in last night's 3-0 win over the White Sox at Citizens Bank Park.

Garcia will seek a second opinion. As a rule, players don't do that if they're told they have a chance to pitch again soon. They do it when they're told they face surgery. Recovery time following operations to repair such injuries is usually at least a year.

He is making $10 million this season and can be a free agent at the end of the year.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he was not allowed to comment on medical matters. Those announcements are supposed to come from general manager Pat Gillick or assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., neither of whom was made available last night.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, whose wife's niece is Garcia's wife, spoke to the pitcher yesterday and fears the worst.

"Almost always, a second opinion is not too much different," Guillen said. "Hopefully, he won't have to go to surgery, but, from what I hear, he might have to go. That's a shame, because [the Phillies] are missing a pretty good pitcher."

Garcia said little after the game except that he hoped treatment might allow him to avoid surgery. He said he didn't know when he would go for a second opinion.

It's a strange coincidence that the news came while the Phillies were playing the team from which they acquired the pitcher with the big game-workhorse reputation at the winter meetings last December in Orlando, Fla.

The trade, in which the Phillies gave up 2001 No. 1 draft choice Gavin Floyd and minor league lefthander Gio Gonzalez, immediately created a wave of optimism about their chances. It was a big reason shortstop Jimmy Rollins declared the Phils the "team to beat" in the NL East.

But Garcia never seemed right. His velocity was off from the beginning of spring training until March 21, when he left a start against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., with what was diagnosed as biceps tendinitis.

He opened the season on the disabled list and pitched with mixed success after he returned, before being shelled by the Royals Friday night in Kansas City. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings. After being taken out of the game, he was confronted in the dugout tunnel by Manuel, who demanded to know whether he was hurting.

Garcia said his shoulder was sore and acknowledged to reporters later that his shoulder had been bothering him since spring training. The initial diagnosis was a strained right shoulder, before tests yesterday revealed a more serious problem.

He was 1-5 with a 5.90 earned run average in 11 starts.

The Phillies have said that they don't believe Garcia was "damaged goods" when they made the trade. Even though his velocity was down at times last season, he was 17-9, logged 200 innings for the seventh time in his carer, and was 4-1, 2.49 in September.

Guillen said the White Sox believed Garcia was healthy when the trade was made.

"The guy pitches 200 innings plus every year. That can get to you," he said. "I think the kid is great, and we thought he was going to be great for Philly." *

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