THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. First question for Jaime.
Q. Jaime, after being out of the postseason for the last few years, how big is it for you to be able to come back and pitch and have been pitching so well lately down the stretch, too?
JAIME GARCIA: First of all, I'm extremely excited to be here, grateful and so thankful, first of all, to God for giving me an opportunity and the health to be here, to still be doing what I love to do, and especially for playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and to be in the postseason again. It's something I don't take for granted, and like I said, grateful and excited to be here, and I'm going to enjoy every moment and try to do my best.
Q. You said all season long that your goal was just to be able to come out and compete for every start. Looking back after a pause at how your stuff has been and how your performances have been this season, where do you evaluate your execution and your health coming into this game? Do you feel about as comfortable as you've felt in your career or is there still room for improvement?
JAIME GARCIA: There is always room for improvement, but I feel like I've been doing a pretty good job this whole season of not letting how I feel physically or mentally, whatever, define what I'm going to -- what my goal is when I take that mound, which is no matter what it is, the stage is going out there and basically competing until the manager takes the ball out of my hand. I'm going to say this again, but it's just always keeping us in the ball game and giving us a chance to win every time.
Q. Can you talk about, I guess, the emotion you will be feeling after tonight? If you guys win tonight, you have a chance to take a commanding lead. If you guys lose today, then you certainly don't want to go back to Chicago down 0-2. Can you talk about how you deal with that emotion following tonight's game?
JAIME GARCIA: To be honest with you, it's not an easy thing to do, but it's been working for me, no matter the situation, the team you're facing or whether they're playoffs or not playoffs, I'm just going to try to prepare myself the same way I would in any regular-season game. It's just worrying about the things that I can control, and whether we're up or down or whoever I'm facing, just going out there and try to worry about executing pitches and keeping us in the ball game. That's it, you know. Other than that, it's just basically out of my control.
Q. Jaime, through the years when you were dealing with the injuries and everything, how different of a pitcher are you now than, maybe, two, three years ago, and how do you think going through what you did with the injuries influences the pitcher or made you the pitcher you are today?
JAIME GARCIA: Well, you know, obviously as you guys know, I've dealt with all that stuff for quite some time, but I feel like it's -- it was the same issue that I had for a while, and what I can say is that it's something that I'm even thankful for, because if it wasn't because of all the struggles and all of the downs in my career, I wouldn't be where I'm at at this point in my career, spiritually, physically and mentally. I just feel like we learn more from our downs than from our ups, and it's something I'm thankful for.
Obviously, like I said before, you learn how to take -- every time I take that mound, basically take it as if it's your last time ever to pitch in a Major League game. You don't take anything for granted, and you go out there and give your best every single time, and that's my approach right now and I'm going to continue to do this, hopefully, for the next month.
Q. As you went through the various injuries that you have in recent years, was there ever a point where you wondered if your body would allow you to get back to where you are now and pitch on this stage?
JAIME GARCIA: Yeah, I'm not going to lie to you. There is definitely some times where, you know, you're struggling, but that's the one thing that my faith and, you know, my faith in Christ has always allowed me to basically not give up and, you know, there is really no giving up and knowing that with my is discipline and how I go about it inside and outside the field, you know, basically knowing that by taking care of the little things, I was going to be able to come back.
There were some tough days after my last surgery, but for the most part, I believed, and I worked really hard to get to this point, and, you know, but, again, I'm just not taking anything for granted and trying to take it as the last game ever in my career.
Q. Jaime, correct me if I'm wrong, but when you came back from Tommy John, wasn't that when you came back with the sinker, that that was something you worked on during your rehab to kind of develop that pitch; right? Is there anything now that you throw that you didn't throw before this most recent injury?
JAIME GARCIA: Yeah, I think that's -- you're right, I didn't throw a sinker before my Tommy John, and I feel like what I've been able to do over the last couple of years is basically reinventing myself every time something happens and always learning -- trying to make my weaknesses into strengths.
For example, I didn't throw a change-up either, and now those two pitches are big for me. But it's always been -- it's always about being willing to make changes for good and reinventing yourself whether it's a mechanical issue, whether it's a pitch and knowing the things that you need to work on and the things that are -- they're your weaknesses and turning it into a strength. That's something that I always pay attention to. I worked so hard to get to that point, but definitely the sinker and the change-ups and things that are my strength right now that work for me are things that I didn't have and I had to work really hard, and at the same time I'm going to continue to do the same thing to always be willing to reinvent and find new things that make my game better.
Q. Even though you still have goals to achieve this year, just this season overall, how satisfying has it been with some uncertainty about your role entering the year and now here you are going to be the Game 2 starter in the NLDS?
JAIME GARCIA: Yeah, like I said at the beginning, it's something definitely that I'm extremely excited and thankful and grateful for the opportunity, but at the same time, you know, what happened is already in the past. Right now I gotta worry about this games that we have coming, and then at the end of the year, whatever happens then I have time to really sit down and think about everything that happened. For right now, all I'm thinking about is just getting ready for tomorrow and hopefully play baseball for one more month.
Q. When teams face each other 19 times in the course of a season, you get to know each other pretty well. Without giving away a scouting report, what is it like you and Yadi working together to figure out a game plan where maybe you're not overthinking, well, the batter will think we're going to do this or we're going to do that, but yet, you don't want to change some strategy. Can you just share how you guys work through looking different against a team you've seen so many times?
JAIME GARCIA: Well, actually, I didn't face the Cubs this year. I've watched all the games. I've been in the dugout and watched their lineup. They are a very talented lineup, have done a really great job the whole year, but again, we are going to go about it the same way as we were to face anybody else. I'm going to do my homework, watch some video, watch the game tonight, watch what they are doing, sit down with Yadi and my pitching coach and figure out a plan of how we are going to do this and always be willing to make adjustments during the game. That's the one thing that makes him good and that I try to do as well, just make adjustments as the game goes on, but I'm going to just prepare myself the same way I would against anybody else at a different stage.
Q. You've been around for a lot of Cubs/Cardinals, but can this get any louder than Cubs/Cardinals normally do and can it have an impact on the game in your mind?
JAIME GARCIA: I don't think it can be any louder. Every time we played them, whether it's here or in Chicago, it's as good a rivalry as you're going to see in the game or in any sport. That tells you a lot about our fans and their fans as well, and it's a very healthy environment for families, and it's something that we're real excited to have -- for me personally, it's something that really gets me excited and fired up about the opportunity, but it's definitely something that we all are really excited about and looking forward to have those fans supporting us.
Q. You mentioned Yadier Molina. Even though as a staff you guys have all the confidence in the world in Tony Cruz, how much of a calming presence and factor that you'll know he should be in here catching these games you guys?
JAIME GARCIA: Yeah, I think, not taking anything away from Tony Cruz, he's done an unbelievable job for us, the games that Yadi hasn't been there. And he's a guy that's been around and most important, he's learned from the best, one of the best of all times. And they're really great friends and spent a lot of time together, and Tony just really watches the way he goes about his business, so you said it, we are really comfortable even if we have to have Tony Cruz, but I mean what better than to have the man out there, Yadi. And that's something that -- not just he's the best catcher in the game right now, he's going to go down as one of the best of all time, so anytime you can have him in the lineup and behind the plate, which I think is what he brings more to our team with his presence and what he does behind the plate, we're definitely really fortunate and excited to have him in that lineup.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jaime.