There, Garcia had become an enigma -- so talented, but so often injured.
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"I had ups and downs, but I had a lot of great memories and relationships," Garcia said. "I'm very thankful to the St. Louis Cardinals for the opportunity that they gave me. I was able to win a World Series there. … It was a little weird [in a new clubhouse] at first after so many years over there, but right now I'm with the Atlanta Braves, and I'm extremely excited to be a part of this thing."
A 22nd-round pick in 2005, Garcia broke into the Majors three years later before missing a full season recovering from injury. It was the start of a career that vacillated between periods of both promise and frustration. He was a third-place finisher in Rookie of the Year voting in '10, but from '13-14, he made just 16 big league appearances.
Just as the Cardinals seemed ready to move on, Garcia bounced back from thoracic outlet surgery to have a strong 2015 season. That prompted the Cardinals to exercise his option for '16. The club picked up another option on Garcia's contract this past fall.
The latter was a calculated decision, as the Cardinals anticipated that Garcia would draw interest in the trade market given the dearth of premium free-agent starters. They were right, and on the first day of December, the Cards flipped Garcia for three prospects -- John Gant, Chris Ellis and Luke Dykstra.
"I went home and just focused on getting myself ready for this season -- regardless of whether it was going to be with the St. Louis Cardinals or someone else," Garcia said. "When they did pick up the option, I was excited and really looked forward to being a part of the team. Obviously, the trade happened, and I had to adapt to that."
Garcia finished his Cardinals career 62-45 with a 3.57 ERA in 158 games (147 starts). His 723 strikeouts rank seventh-most among all left-handers in franchise history, and, between injuries, he has posted the 10th-lowest ERA (3.53 ERA) among all MLB lefties over the past seven seasons.
"I just hope I'm remembered as a guy who, regardless of everything that I went through, I gave it all," Garcia said. "I never liked to point fingers; I tried to man up with whatever happened. Unfortunately, things didn't go the way I wanted them to go sometimes, but I tried to always give my best to the city and the team."