Jaime Garcia turned 28 on Tuesday. As birthdays go, Garcia said, “I think I’ve had about 27 better ones.”
Tuesday was the day that Garcia and the Cardinals finalized the fact that he will have surgery on Friday to alleviate a thoracic outlet syndrome condition, an ailment that hastened the end of the career of Cards ace Chris Carpenter.
Garcia met with Dr. Robert Thompson, a Washington University nerve specialist, for several hours on Monday night. Garcia said Thompson, like a Dallas specialist who had worked with Carpenter, had recommended the surgery.
“It took me a while to convince myself that I had to do that,” Garcia said. “I don’t think it’s something that anybody wants to go through.”
The announcement of the imminent surgery then was made first by general manager John Mozeliak on Tuesday then by Garcia. That rather reversed the order of Saturday’s chain of events, when Garcia first told the media of a nerve condition that had sent tingling sensations through his neck and left arm and had numbed the fingers on his pitching hand.
“We’re just not talking about my career — we’re talking about after baseball,” Garcia said.
Garcia, who has been on the disabled list in four years for the Cards, said he planned to be ready for the start of next season.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” he said.
After having had shoulder surgery last year, Garcia was set back in spring training by shoulder problems and placed on the disabled list. He emerged to win three of four decisions, including a seven-inning scoreless outing in Toronto on June 8.
Before that game, Garcia said he cut out anything that would strain his arm, such as lifting and throwing a bullpen session. Once that worked, he tried the same format for his final two starts. In one, he allowed just one run in seven innings and the other, on June 20, he lasted only five innings.
More important, the tingling in his neck, the shooting pain through the hand and the numbness returned. Garcia said he even was having trouble sleeping. The ultimate diagnosis was thoracic outlet syndrome.
“I had no idea that that even existed before this year,” Garcia said. “Both of the doctors believed this had been going on for a while.
“But this whole time I’m not informing the team, I’m not informing the (team) doctors because I had no clue. I thought (the discomfort) was coming from my shoulder.”
While he was on a minor-league medical option this year, Garcia was hit by a pitch on a nerve in his left elbow, which Garcia suspected did not help matters.
Part of the surgery involves the removal of a rib.
“I feel this is the most logical and only option that I had,” Garcia said.
But asked if he had relief about the decision, Garcia said, “It’s hard to say the word ‘relief. I’m very frustrated and disappointed at myself because this continues to happen. I know they would like to have me out there. I would like to be out there more than they want to have me out there.
“It’s a tough surgery. I’m just praying for everything to go well.”
Garcia is 42-26 for his Cardinals career and has a $9.25 million deal for 2015, with team options for 2016 and 2017 that are unlikely to be picked up.
Mozeliak said he wouldn’t know for a couple of months about Garcia’s chances of pitching next year.
“It’s a very invasive surgery,” Mozeliak said. “When you don’t have a ton of examples for it in this industry, there’s question marks.”
The Cardinals had a scout attend the Boston-Baltimore game Sunday, in part, to scout American League clubs they will face later in the season. There were reports from ESPN.com that the Cardinals had interest in Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy.
But the Cardinals are “looking for offense,” a source with knowledge of the club’s thinking said, and Peavy does not match their needs now.
The Cards had been taking stock of the market for starting pitchers with an eye on possible additions if injuries persisted. The Cardinals are hopeful that starter Joe Kelly, on the disabled list for nearly three months because of a hamstring injury, returns on Friday in Milwaukee.
HOLLIDAY BACK AT NO. 3
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, taking note to the several early-inning double plays hit into by Matt Holliday when the left fielder was moved to the No. 2 spot, dropped Holliday back to his normal third spot on Tuesday and he had a two-run double in the fifth inning. Jon Jay hit second — and grounded into a double play in the first inning.
GIRSCH PULLS OUT
Michael Girsch, who has been the Cardinals’ assistant general manager for four seasons, announced he was withdrawing his name from consideration for the vacant general manager’s job in San Diego.
(Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this report).