BOSTON -- If it wasn't for injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, Freddy Garcia knows exactly where he would still be.
"Oh, I'd be in the bullpen," he said with an honest yet confident smile, following Saturday afternoon's 6-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Garcia is now 3-2 with a 5.23 ERA, but Saturday marked his first win as a starter this season, as he allowed just one run on six hits and two walks, while striking out five in 6.2 innings.
After feeling good in spring training, Garcia started the regular season with an 0-2 record and a 12.51 ERA after his first four starts -- all in the month of April. Since then, he's spent the rest of the season in the bullpen, until this past Monday, when Garcia had recovered from his "dead arm" and made his first start since April 28.
"I think if he was a little older I'd be more concerned," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi after Saturday afternoon's win. "But I saw signs in the bullpen from him, that he was throwing the ball better. And Freddy, he was like, 'I'm going to get back.' He was committed to getting back. And he did.
"It's strange when he kind of went --to me -- probably through a little dead-arm period. A lot of times, guys will go through it in spring training. He went through it, I think, in the first month."
In Monday's start against the Tampa Bay Rays, Garcia pitched to a no-decision with 5.1 innings of work while allowing two runs on five hits and two home runs. It was an improvement from April, that's for sure.
And Saturday afternoon was an improvement from Garcia's last start in Fenway, which came on April 21 of this year, as Garcia was pulled in the second inning after allowing five runs on seven hits.
"I'm not thinking about that," said Garcia after Saturday's win. "That happened in April. We're in July, so, I had a bad outing that day, and I can't think about that. I've got to go out there and pitch. That's what I do."
Garcia went out and pitched against a Red Sox lineup that wasn't necessarily stacked in the first of a day-night double-header. But he still took a no-hitter into the bottom of the fourth, until David Ortiz broke it up with a liner off the Green Monster.
Garcia left the game in the seventh inning, with the Yankees having a 6-1 lead. While his offense got off to a hot start by scoring four runs in the top of the first, Garcia credits his performance to his velocity.
He wasn't throwing smoke, but nearly touching 90 was better than what he was throwing in April.
"I felt great today," said Garcia. "My fastball, I located the fastball, I had good velocity today, and a good slider. We got the lead early, and that's all I needed.
"Velocity made my other pitches better," he added. "My slider, my changeup, everything was better, as long as I have more velocity."
Now that everything seems to be going well for Garcia, he opened up about that "dead arm" period following Saturday afternoon's win.
"I was feeling good in spring training," he said. "When the season started, something happened. It's crazy, but, now I'm back, and I feel great."
And the move to the bullpen, well, that ended up working out alright.
"It worked for me," said Garcia. "I was there, with my stuff, ready for every game. And I wasn't pitching that much, but with long tossing and doing my stuff, that's why I feel good now."