"I wasn't able to recover," Garcia said. "Things weren't getting any better [Saturday], the day before my start. I think it's just a matter of still recovering. Maybe it got to the point where it was a little too much for my body this early. Now, we just back off a little bit or take a couple days off, whatever decision they're going to make."
The Cardinals haven't made that decision just yet, with manager Mike Matheny saying that the club is unsure how long Garcia will be sidelined. It will be long enough, however, to keep him off an Opening Day roster that he seemed to be pitching himself onto with continued progress this spring.
The 80 pitches Garcia threw on Tuesday were the most he had thrown in an outing since his season ended last June. A month later, he underwent thoracic outlet surgery, a procedure that has brought mixed results for pitchers. Former Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, for one, never fully recovered.
That uncertainty was why the Cardinals were hesitant all along to expect a strong and seamless spring from Garcia.
"We didn't put extra expectations on him," Matheny said. "We gave him an opportunity, and things were moving in a different direction. But, unfortunately, his health didn't allow him to continue in that direction."
Instead of traveling to Chicago with the team next weekend, Garcia is likely to remain in Florida -- where he can rest, recover and then build back up in extended spring training. By starting the season on the disabled list, Garcia would also be able to make some Minor League appearances as part of a rehab assignment before the Cardinals reconsider his placement on the Major League depth chart.
"My job is to come here every day to do what they ask me to do," Garcia said. "And up until that point, things have been feeling really good and I've been progressing really well. Now, I'm going to leave it up to them to make that decision whether we need to go back on the pitch count, do whatever it is to make adjustments. But all I can say is that during that time, it felt as good as it's felt in a long time."
Marco Gonzales stepped in to start in place of Garcia on Sunday. With the fifth-starter battle now down a competitor, the Cardinals are reevaluating how they intend to use Gonzales and Carlos Martinez this next week. If the Cardinals envision either pitcher stepping into that final rotation spot, the club will have to find a way to get that pitcher enough work to keep his pitch count high. The final four Grapefruit League starts were projected to go to the four starters already cemented in the rotation.