Danny Garcia hit .290 in July
The road to recovery from a major injury is a long and arduous process, and sometimes players can heal physically faster than they do mentally. This is exactly what happened to Clippers second baseman Danny Garcia, who signed with the Yankees prior to this year. And with his first complete season with Columbus almost done, it has been one with achievements as well as disappointments for Garcia.
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Danny Garcia was selected by the Mets in the 5th round of the 2001 draft, and after a few stints in the Majors with New York, he signed with the Indians prior to the 2005 season. But surgery sidelined him for the entire season, and although he was ready to go physically to start this year with Columbus, he knew he was not where he needed to be with his game.
“Coming off the year not playing, I got off to a slow start offensively. It took me about 200 at-bats to figure it out,” said Garcia. Through 105 games and 335 at-bats so far this season, Garcia is batting .245 with three home runs and 35 RBI hitting mostly out of the bottom of the lineup, usually in the seven or eight hole.
Clippers hitting coach Kevin Long said that the effect of a season-long injury on a player goes beyond just physical rehabilitation.
“It hurts a player when they get hurt,” said Long. “Coming off an injury, as far as your timing, your defense, everything, you kind of lose a little bit.”
But Garcia has battled all of this year, and although it took him some time, he says his bat has finally caught up to where they were before the injury.
“The last 150 at-bats I’ve felt comfortable and back to normal me,” he said. “I wish I’d had all 350 like that, I’d probably be sitting about .270, .280. But the important thing is that I figured it out.”
Defensively, it has been more of a struggle. Although he can make the spectacular play, it’s the routine errors that Long said Garcia needs to avoid.
“There’ve been some plays that he’s made that have been terrific, but there’ve also been some other plays that he should’ve made,” said Long.
Garcia however, is not worried about his mental lapses at second this year. He said he knows that it’s part of the rehab process, and that he will be back at full strength defensively next year.
“I made a couple of more errors than I would’ve liked defensively, but that could be a part of a lot of different things, I’m really not too worried about that,” he said.
Improvement over the course of the season has been the theme for the 25-year-old. Before the year, Garcia said he established two key factors that he knew would get him back on track.
“I needed to get my arm better throughout the year, so I know I can have it at full go next year,” he said. “And I needed to figure out my approach. Those were the two things that had to happen this year and they both have happened.”
With his game close to being back to where he wanted it to be, Garcia’s eyes are back on getting to the Majors. Not that they ever left.
“Until I get those two things (arm and approach) on lockdown and under my control, then I’m not going to be where I want to be,” he said. “In terms of where I want to be, of course the next level is where I want to be.”
In fact, Garcia feels he missed out when the Yankees picked up Nick Green from Tampa Bay in late May.
“If I was doing my thing, playing defense hitting the way I do, doing all the little things that I do, I don’t think they would have ever picked him up early on, I think I could’ve been that guy,” he said.
Missed opportunity aside, Garcia is optimistic for next year, and the opportunity to play a full season at full strength.
“I’m definitely optimistic for next year, especially because I’ll be back from the beginning of the season, back to where I need to be, offensively, defensively with my arm, so very much optimistic, with this organization or without.”
Without? Garcia was vague about what he meant.
“I appreciate them, the New York Yankees getting me back into baseball, and giving me the opportunity to figure out those things I needed to figure out, and I’m going to play hard for them until that last hit, and I’ll see what my options are at that point.”
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