Garcia excited for new start in Philly

Garcia excited for new start in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies were ecstatic at last week's Winter Meetings when they were able to acquire right-handed starter Freddy Garcia.

Garcia is just as thrilled with the deal.

"I'm really happy to go to Philadelphia," Garcia said in a conference call on Tuesday. "They have a very good chance to make the playoffs. It's a young team with good players."

Acquiring a two-time All-Star like Garcia may be just what the Phillies need to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993. They traded Double-A pitching prospect Gio Gonzalez and right-hander Gavin Floyd to the White Sox for the 30-year-old Garcia.

Garcia, who will earn $10 million and will become a free agent after the season, is 116-71 in eight years with the Mariners and White Sox. He has thrown more than 200 innings in six consecutive seasons and was 17-9 with a 4.53 ERA in 2006.

More importantly, Garcia has postseason experience. He is 5-2 with a 3.11 ERA in nine playoff starts and was part of the 2005 World Series championship team with the White Sox.

He'll join a rotation that includes Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Adam Eaton. For now, it also includes Jon Lieber, but he could be traded before Spring Training.

Garcia is excited to join to his new teammates in Clearwater, Fla., in February.

"I feel pretty good," Garcia said. "The last 10 games [of the season], I felt good. Hopefully, next year, I'll come to Spring Training and show people I've still got it."

Garcia's best season occurred in '01, when he went 18-6 with a 3.05 ERA with the Mariners. His fastball was consistently clocked around 95-96 mph back then.

Last season, his fastball hit the catcher's glove consistently around 92 mph.

Garcia believes that competing deep into the playoffs, winning a World Series and then pitching for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic had some lingering effects on his velocity.

"Right now, I feel pretty good," said Garcia, who began his career in the Astros organization and was part of the Astros-Mariners trade on July 31, 1998, which sent Randy Johnson to Houston. "I've gotten a lot of rest. In Spring Training, I think I'll feel pretty good."

Many pitchers have felt good before a start at Citizens Bank Park only to see a bevy of home runs sail out of the ballpark.

Garcia has surrendered 191 career home runs.

"I'm not really concerned," he said. "You've got to go play and have fun. You've got to forget about it and make a better pitch. I love to compete."

When pressed on the issue, Garcia maintained his stance.

"I know how to pitch," Garcia said. "Whatever I have that day, I'll try to figure out how to pitch that day. If I'm throwing hard, I'm throwing hard. If I don't have velocity that day, I have to make it happen another way."

Before Garcia even throws his first pitch with the Phillies, he was asked about a contract extension to remain in Philadelphia.

"If it's brought up, of course," Garcia said. "Right now, I talked to my agent when I got traded. That's it. We'll see what happens."

If Garcia can put up the type of numbers he has over the past eight seasons, a long-term deal is a strong possibility. For now, Garcia is just anxious to join his new team.

"I love to pitch," Garcia said. "I love to enjoy the game."

Andy Jasner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.