ANAHEIM, Calif. –- If it was toughness Freddy Garcia wanted to prove, he did just that Friday in his return to the rotation.
Out since Sept. 7, when a sore lower back cut short his second consecutive outing, Garcia felt it was a priority to return to the mound before the season ended.
A free agent after this season, Garcia wanted to show that the back injury, which required an epidural shot at one point, was nothing to worry about for teams shopping for starters this offseason. The White Sox are included in those teams looking for pitching.
Call this a measure of Garcia’s grit and determination. The outing laid the groundwork for the White Sox’s 2-1 victory over the Angels.
“It was important to me because now I have one more start to show everybody that I’m 100 percent and that’s what I did,” said Garcia, who didn't sit on the bench between innings to make sure his back didn't tighten up.
Not only did Garcia pitch through rust and any lingering discomfort, he survived a line drive off the side of his right thigh in the second inning, a ball he actually caught on the rebound for the out. After wincing, and in some serious pain, Garcia stayed in the game.
Garcia ended up allowing just one run on four hits over six innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Afterward he showed off a raised welt on his leg that was starting to turn purple.
So why does he still need to improve himself after 28 starts and a 4.74 ERA this year?
“You never know what they’re looking for,” Garcia said. “For me that’s fine. I have to pitch against Boston [next week] and I know that’s the last one.”
The right-hander has now pitched 150 innings this season, easily his most since throwing 216 1/3 in 2006. He turns 34 in a few weeks and despite a history of injuries, with the way Garcia redefined himself as a control pitcher this year, manager Ozzie Guillen knows his starter will have his share of pursuers this offseason.
“There is no question,” Guillen said. “I think this kid showed people he can still pitch. When guys can still pitch and throw strikes and is a veteran [pitcher] who can give you everything he has out there, if there is any scout out there saw the way he threw for us, I don’t see why he wouldn’t pitch next year. I see guys who do a lot less than he does.”
By the numbers
18: Games the White Sox have gone without getting a victory from a starting pitcher. The streak is a club record, with the old mark of 15 set during the 1985 season.
“You take a little pride about it. If you don’t make it where you want to make it, you still want to finish the best you can. My priority was to always finish first. … If you finish second, it’s better than last.” –- Guillen, on the team’s desire to still finish strong this season.
White Sox left-hander John Danks (13-11) will make his next-to-last start at Angel Stadium, where he is 1-0 with a 1.47 ERA in three career starts. Danks will be opposed by Angels left-hander Scott Kazmir (9-14, 5.84), who has just two victories at home this season.