SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Aramis Garcia's brief time with Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League confirmed what he might have previously thought about Hunter Pence's stint there a year ago.
"He's like a legend over there, pretty much," Garcia said Thursday, laughing.
Unfortunately, Garcia's time in the D.R. also confirmed the fears that first popped up last summer, when he felt discomfort in his hip. Garcia hoped to use winter ball as a springboard to the Giants' Opening Day roster, but the pain in his right hip was so intense that he lasted just 12 plate appearances before returning to the United States.
Last week, Garcia underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum. He currently is on crutches and is expected to miss six to eight months. Garcia said anti-inflammatories knocked out the pain last summer and he felt great all fall and into the winter. But when the pain returned, he knew this time something was different.
"I had a feeling when I was in the D.R. that this is where it was headed," he said. "I've never felt that kind of pain on a baseball field before. I had a feeling that it wouldn't end well."
Hip surgery is a setback for a player of any stature. Buster Posey had a similar procedure with the same doctor -- Marc Philippon in Vail, Colo., -- late in the 2018 season and wasn't back to full strength last year. Zach Green also was set back by hip surgery last year.
But for Garcia, the timing particularly was brutal. A year after the Giants acquired Erik Kratz just before camp as a bridge to Stephen Vogt, they were set to let Garcia and others compete for the backup job. Garcia would have entered camp as the frontrunner, and he was excited about the progress he was making early in the winter.
Garcia is less than a week removed from surgery, and it was clear he has chosen to take the optimistic path and not focus on the lost opportunity. He said his procedure was slightly less serious than Posey's, and he's not looking at it as season-ending.
"Because it happened early, I have a chance to come back this year," he said.
The front end of the timeframe would put Garcia back on a field in August. At some point the Giants will put Garcia on the 60-day Injured List and add another catcher to the 40-day roster -- currently it's just Posey and Garcia -- but if he is able to return by August, there still would be time to join the roster as a third catcher in September. That would be a nice reward for a player who has had awful injury luck throughout his career.
For now, Garcia will rehab at the facility in Scottsdale. The competition will go on without him, but Gabe Kapler said the new staff will make sure Garcia is involved. Kapler recalled how he tore his Achilles in 2005 and came to camp the next year feeling like an outsider.
"We have to surround him with that support and then remind him of his goals, and his goals are to be ahead of schedule," Kapler said. "That's always a good goal for players rehabbing, to beat the timetable."