January 7th, 2011

Could Freddy return to Detroit? Maybe, but not likely

The Tigers helped get Freddy Garcia back on the mound a few years ago after shoulder surgery, then watched him help thwart their division hopes with the White Sox the following season. Now that Garcia is a free agent again and the Tigers need some starting competition, would a reunion in Detroit be possible, or has he burned his bridges here?

It’s possible, though unlikely at this point. Tigers officials at least pondered the idea this offseason, and Garcia is believed to be open to it. But all indications point towards Brad Penny and Jeremy Bonderman getting more consideration from the Tigers right now as they look for a veteran starter to push Armando Galarraga for the fifth starter spot.

On the list of back-end starting options, the Tigers certainly could do worse.

Garcia went 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in three starts down the stretch for Detroit in 2008 after missing more than a year rehabbing from labrum surgery. More shoulder trouble in winter ball helped keep the Tigers off him that offseason. He rejoined the White Sox, where he helped win a World Series in 2005, and went 15-10 in Chicago over the last two seasons, but with a 4.56 ERA and 27 home runs allowed over 213 combined innings.

Garcia throws with even less velocity now than he had a few years ago, but he gets more results out of less pure stuff than a lot of pitchers in his situation. As one scout put it, he pitches like he can throw 95 mph. He also has as much experience with AL Central hitters as anyone on the market — 36 plate appearances against Justin Morneau (6-for-29), 35 PAs versus Joe Mauer (13-for-31), 36 with Travis Hafner (15-for-33) and 34 against Jim Thome (5-for-23).

There’s also the 18-7 record he sports against the Tigers, including 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA in five meetings with Detroit last year. His seven innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts at Detroit on the final Saturday of the 2009 season was a major blow in the Tigers’ division collapse, dropping them into a tie with the Twins.

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