CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies received encouraging news about the injured battery of right-hander Freddy Garcia and catcher Carlos Ruiz on Thursday, but they remain cautious about getting each back on the field. Both were examined by an associate of team physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti, who will check out Garcia and Ruiz for himself on Saturday, when he is scheduled to be in Clearwater. Neither injury is considered serious. Garcia, who won't throw for a few days, felt tenderness in his right biceps near the shoulder, and threw only 32 of his 85 scheduled pitches against the Blue Jays. His velocity was below the already reduced 88 mph from earlier this spring.
"I thought I was throwing 78," Garcia said. Ruiz felt something during warmups before Wednesday night's game and was diagnosed with soreness in his right shoulder. Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that both players felt better on Thursday. "The exams were pretty encouraging," Amaro said. "We'll be conservative and go from there." For now, the Phillies won't switch Jon Lieber back to the rotation, and will continue to use him out of the bullpen. Early-season off-days mean that the Phillies won't need a fifth starter until April 8, so Garcia has the benefit of extra time, if necessary. "We're shutting [Garcia] down and building him back up," Amaro said. "[When it's time to throw], we'll give him the ball and see how he feels. If he doesn't feel well when he gets back, we'll have to make an adjustment. We'll probably know a little more [on Saturday]." Told not to throw until at least Saturday, it's unlikely that Garcia will make his start on Monday. Assuming Garcia receives a clean bill of health on Saturday, the Phillies could ready him to start on March 29 against the Pirates, then on April 3 in an extended Spring Training game -- while the rest of the team is in Philadelphia -- and make his Phillies debut on April 8. For what it's worth, Garcia is confident that he'll be ready to start the season.
"I'm not worried," he said. "I have to do what I have to do to get back in. I know I'll be OK."The right-hander has displayed less-than-normal velocity since Spring Training began, so this injury represented a red flag. "He started off throwing 80 or 81 [mph] at the beginning," Amaro said. "He's a veteran guy and knows how to get himself ready. The encouraging thing about him was that he was building [up his velocity]. First 80, then 82. He got up to 88. We were encouraged by the fact that he was improving before he had the tenderness." The important thing is when Garcia will throw again, but Amaro didn't have an answer. "I don't have a crystal ball on this one," he said. "His health will dictate how we move forward on him. We're moving forward at a normal [pace]." The situation directly affects Lieber, who will throw again on Sunday or Monday, depending on Garcia's status. "We'll just have to see where he's at," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. Ruiz also had shoulder issues in 2006 that forced him to be used as a designated hitter for part of the season. "It's one of the reasons why Rod Barajas became very important to us, because Carlos has never played in a full season in the Major Leagues," Amaro said. "It was important for us to give ourselves some depth there. We hope he's going to be fine. Our goal is to have everybody healthy when we break camp."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.