Originally written January 19, 2013 on Fox Sports Midwest:
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ST. LOUIS - Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia didn't have much to say about a frustrated 2012 season Saturday when he met with reporters before taking his turn in the autograph line at the annual Winter Warm-Up. And he's not sure what to expect in 2013 either. Garcia, who left a start in Game 2 of the Division Series with reoccurring shoulder stiffness that cost him a good chunk of the regular season as well, was deemed healthy in November and has begun his normal throwing program for 2013. But he's not ready to say his injured shoulder is 100 percent behind him. "We'll see in April when we get going," Garcia said. "So far it's been good." The left-hander went 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 20 starts but was sidelined for nearly three months in the middle of the season as he attempted to figure out the cause of stiffness in his left shoulder which caused problems to his release point. Garcia returned to make nine starts before the playoffs and had a 3.25 ERA. But he was yanked from a Game 2 start against the Nationals at Busch Stadium after walking three and allowing two hits and a run in just two innings. "It was frustrating but that's already in the past," Garcia said. "I'm ready to move forward to 2013 and I'm really excited." Garcia took a few weeks off before remaining in St. Louis after the season to begin a rehab and throwing program. He progressed to throwing a bullpen session at Busch Stadium in November before stopping his throwing for the rest of the winter. He began his normal preseason throwing program a few weeks ago and has yet to suffer any setbacks. He plans to throw his first bullpen session next week. "I'm feeing good and ready for spring," Garcia said. "I'm just working as hard as I can and believe me, I'm doing everything I can possibly do every single day to be ready to go." Garcia made news last month when his name was included on a preliminary list of stars committing to play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic despite finishing last season injured. But the 26-year-old Garcia said he never intended to participate for Team Mexico and informed them of his final decision last week. "It was a tough one because it was such an honor for me to be chosen for that but it's not the time right now," Garcia said. "They called me because they wanted to use my name as the face of the team and they asked my agent if they could do that and I said yes, but the team never asked me I was going to play. "When they finally called me in person last week to make a decision, I said no. The whole time I knew I wasn't going to play. I would love to play for my country but it's definitely not the time." Garcia enters the second year of a 4-year, 27 million contract this season. And he couldn't he happier to try and put a rough 2012 behind him. That is, if he's healthy. "I'm not even thinking about last year," Garcia said. "I'm thinking about 2013. I'm excited about this year and we'll see. I'm ready to go for spring." OTHER WINTER WARM-UP TIDBITS: Pitcher Chris Carpenter said he began his normal offseason throwing program about a month earlier than usual. "I was a little anxious about the way I was going to feel and if it was going to continue to feel well and when you go through all the stuff I've gone through, there's always that doubt in your mind when you pick up the ball what its going to feel like. So far it's felt good." Carpenter, who turns 38 in April, has one year remaining on his contract. He said he'd think more about his future after the season but would like to continue playing if he's healthy and his family allows. Outfielder Matt Holliday said he was not approached about playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. While he said it would have been an honor to participate, he's not disappointed because of the extra time he'll have to spend with his family. Outfielder Adron Chambers said this would be a big year for his baseball future because the Cardinals have to "kind of decide whether they want to keep me or not." Chambers said he's been running sprints in the sand on the beach in Florida to work on his speed and hopes to come into camp in better shape.
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