Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
Uncertain were the first words out of Chicago starter Freddy Garcias mouth after what might have been his final start with the White Sox:
Hopefully this is not my last month with the Black and White, Garcia said. But Im really happy with the way I pitched tonight. I dont know. We got second place, at least.
Garcia indeed ensured Chicago of second place with one of his strongest starts of the season in his supposed swan song, running perfectly through a first run of the Boston Red Sox order and surrendering just four hits and two earned runs on the night. The win raised Garcias comeback season record to 12-6, with an additional four wins withered by the White Sox bullpen. The veterans ERA finishes at a healthy 4.64 but he logged the second-best quality starts percentage among Chisox starters, at 64 percent.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is close to Garcia and has buoyed him with praise all season long. Postgame Wednesday was no different.
I owe my family a few dollars: I was betting hed be out and wed have to give Garcia a little rest, and he proved me wrong, Guillen said. He should feel proud: Hes worked so hard over the last couple of years and given himself an opportunity to compete. The way he competed, he can go home and have a great winter, because he worked hard.
Garcia returned the affection.
I like it here, he said. Ozzie is a great man, a good friend. Were like family. But whatever happens, happens. Its baseball business. You got to go with the flow.
Garcia acknowledged his hard work as well, after logging his 28th start of the season, fourth on the staff but just four behind starts leader Mark Buehrle.
This year was big for me, Garcia said. The last two years, I wasnt pitching. I got surgery and came back this year to almost throw 160 innings 157 Hopefully everything works out for us.
Garcias comeback struck particularly close to home with Guillen, given his return from a career-threatening knee injury in 1993.
In this game, as soon as you get hurt once, they tag you, no matter how many years youve been playing, Guillen said. I use myself as an example: Everything was so easy for me, like Freddy, and suddenly so many people have doubts about how much time youre going to put in to come back. When I got hurt, I played full seasons after that, and I always had to hear it would be my last year in baseball. You have to prove people wrong, day-in and day-out. To have worked so hard and gotten what he did, thats amazinga great accomplishment.
Guillen has made no bones about wanting Garcia to return to the White Sox, along with all his longtime veterans (including Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski). But Garcia knows that the White Sox project at least six-deep in the starting rotation for 2011, not including him.
I have no idea about a return, well see after the season, Garcia said. Whatever happens, happens. Hopefully, I come back. Id like to come back here. I love it here. Its a great city, a great team.
Guillen recalled Garcias shaky start in spring training, which might well have been the key to his strong 2010 regular season.
When we started spring training, Garcias first outing they scored like 13 runs and the second they scored 20, and we had a meeting, Guillen said. GM Kenny Williams said, I dont worry about Freddy. I know what were going to get. Next. When the general manager says that, its a vote of confidence. Most of the time what we say in that meeting room stays in that room, but this time I told Freddy how much confidence Kenny had in him, and he came back to be one of the more consistent pitchers we had.
A lot of people talk about John Danks and Gavin Floyd, but the best pitcher we had every five days was Freddy.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.