JUPITER, Fla. -- Concerned that comments he made two days earlier might be interpreted differently than he intended, Jaime Garcia clarified on Saturday that he would be open to any role that would offer him the chance to be on the Major League team. In other words, he's not demanding that he be a starter.
"My point wasn't to come in here and say, 'If I'm not a starting pitcher, I'm not going to go to the bullpen,'" Garcia said. "I never meant for it to sound like that.
"What I meant to say is that I prepare myself to be [a starter], but I'm coming here to compete and win a spot on the team. If it comes down to being something else besides a starting pitcher, then I'll be happy to do that.
"I've never [pitched in relief] in my life. That's my point. I didn't prepare this offseason to be a bullpen guy or be a closer. I prepared myself to be a starting pitcher, get my pitch count up. But obviously coming in here, I'm trying to earn a spot to pitch in the Major Leagues in April. I want to let my work out there do the talking. That was my whole point."
Speaking to reporters from MLB.com and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday, Garcia was emphatic about his desire to be a starting pitcher, using those two words six times in the course of one answer.
"I'm a starting pitcher," he said at the time. "I'm a starting pitcher, and I came in prepared for that. I've been a starting pitcher my whole career. … I'm coming in like I did seven years ago, six years ago, when I made the team my first year as a starting pitcher. I have the same mentality. I'm the same exact guy. I'm trying to make a team, trying to earn a spot. But I'm a starting pitcher."
While the Cardinals will give Garcia the opportunity to win a starting job this spring, they have been consistent about their intentions to also give Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales a chance to win that spot. Garcia, who underwent shoulder surgery in 2013 and thoracic outlet surgery last year, must prove his health over the long-term to enter that consideration.
It could turn out that Garcia's best fit is in the bullpen, where his workload could be more easily monitored.
Knowing that he has more to prove than most this spring, Garcia has accelerated his program. He has thrown off the mound eight times already and was noticeably more aggressive in his bullpen session on Friday than most pitchers, who are still conditioning their arms.
"I'm coming back from major surgery and I'm trying to be ready for those [Spring Training] games," Garcia said. "A lot of these guys are trying to get ready for April 5. I'm trying to get ready for March."