Garcia aims to crack O's Opening Day roster

Garcia aims to crack O's Opening Day roster

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Last year, Jason Garcia reported to the Orioles' annual offseason minicamp as a recent Rule 5 Draft pick, and he thoroughly impressed manager Buck Showalter with his smooth delivery.

A year later, Garcia is back at the Ed Smith Stadium complex for another minicamp, once again preparing to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster -- but this time with a far different feeling. He is no longer a Rule 5 pick, no longer bound by the restrictions or uncertainty that comes along with that distinction. Garcia is confident, more comfortable and eager to get back to the big leagues.

"Just the experience and everything from [last year] that I learned and went through, this offseason, I got to sit down and think about and take it in," Garcia said. "It was awesome, and I'm pumped, excited."

Garcia had to make the club out of Spring Training last season or the O's would have risked losing him on waivers. Garcia is less of a sure thing heading into this season, as he's still pitched in only 30 games above Class A ball, but he said his attitude is no different than it was last spring.

"My mindset about that hasn't changed," Garcia said. "The goal is still going to be to hopefully break with the team out of Spring Training."

A starting pitcher for most of his Minor League career, Garcia pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the Orioles last year. He has talked with the club about where he'll pitch this season, but they haven't made a decision either way yet.

Garcia went 1-0 with a 4.25 ERA over 21 appearances with the O's last year, striking out 22 but walking 17 in 29 2/3 innings. His season was disrupted by a shoulder injury that cost him about two months.

After a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie, Garcia was a much more effective pitcher, posting a 2.81 ERA and holding opponents to a .222 average in his final 13 appearances for Baltimore.

"It was a lot different. I think my mindset and just my confidence was different," Garcia said. "Working with [pitching coach Alan Mills] in Bowie, I think, was pretty crucial for me, and just getting everything right. I felt a lot more confident coming back from that rehab stint."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.