Garcia optimistic about return to Chicago

Garcia optimistic about return to Chicago

CHICAGO -- Freddy Garcia found himself in a familiar setting on Sunday morning, back in the White Sox clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field as a member of the team for the first time since pitching for them three seasons ago.

Garcia spent time lounging in street clothes in a back room, reacquainting himself with the coaching staff, but make no mistake -- he is here on business. Garcia is scheduled to throw a side session in the bullpen on Monday in front of the White Sox brass to determine where he will be placed within the team's Minor League system as he attempts to revive his baseball career.

Garcia had surgery on his right shoulder in August 2007 after the White Sox traded him to the Phillies, but pain in the repaired shoulder has dogged him for much of his career since that time.

With the Phillies, he made 11 starts before the injury, going 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA. Garcia then tried comebacks with the Tigers and the Mets, but neither deal stuck. He was released by the Mets on April 28 after performing poorly in two appearances with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. He went 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA, allowing 10 earned runs and 12 hits in 11 innings pitched.

The White Sox agreed to a Minor League contract with Garcia on June 8, but he has yet to pitch in a game situation.

That all could change very soon, however, pending Garcia's bullpen session.

"I'm feeling good," Garcia said. "It's about time. I don't have any pains, so that's good."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said that, depending on how well Garcia threw, he would either head to Class A Kannapolis or Triple-A Charlotte.

"He's pretty comfortable," Guillen said. "He talked about it. He's excited about it. I'm looking forward to seeing him throw tomorrow. Hopefully, he is what he thinks he is. And then we'll take it from there. Right now, it's not in our minds, but tomorrow gets it in a lot of people's minds."

Garcia played an integral role in the White Sox 2005 World Series title, pitching in the championship-clinching Game 4 victory, throwing seven innings and allowing no runs. While with the White Sox from 2004-06, Garcia picked up 40 victories with 21 losses.

He has spent the last month working at extended Spring Training in Glendale, Ariz., and he said if he continued to throw pain-free, his velocity would continue to increase.

"I can throw maybe 87, 88, 90 [mph]," Garcia said. "That's what I need. I threw 82, 83 earlier and I got away with that. But if I don't have any problems with my shoulder, I can throw 90, 91, 92. I did it last year when I came back."

Garcia said he did not have a preference as to where the White Sox organization sent him to pitch.

"I need to face hitters and throw some innings," Garcia said. "It can be at Kannapolis or Charlotte, either way."

White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said he would be glad to have Garcia back.

"He knows how to pitch," Konerko said. "He's got a lot of guts. That's probably his best quality for sure. He's a real gutsy guy. You can never have too many of those guys in your organization.

"It would be nice to see him get back on the mound for real in the big leagues, whether it's with us or somebody just because you want to see guys not have to go out on an injury. Freddy's great. He's great in the clubhouse, and great on the bus. We'd love to get him back."

Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.