Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia shut down for one month

Saturday, June 9, 2012 | 6:45 p.m. CDT; updated 3:39 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 10, 2012
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) walks off the mound after giving up a two-run home run to Houston Astros' Justin Maxwell, left, in the second inning of a game on Tuesday in Houston. The Cardinals expect Garcia to miss one month with a rotator cuff injury.

ST. LOUIS — Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia will be shut down for a month because of an injury the team is calling a left shoulder strain and could be sidelined as long as two months.

It's the latest big hit for a World Series championship team ravaged by injuries.

Two doctors have recommended rehab rather than surgery, and the left-hander is scheduled to meet with another doctor, James Andrews, on Monday, an off day for the team.

Garcia was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday and visited Lewis Yocum on Friday in Los Angeles. Yocum agreed with the diagnosis of Cardinals team physician George Paletta, that Garcia has some tearing in the labrum and rotator cuff.

"They truly believe the rehab's going to help, and that's what's in my head now," Garcia said Saturday. "I'm not thinking about surgery. There's nothing else I'm going to be thinking about."

Garcia is the second member of the rotation to be sidelined. Chris Carpenter, who won a game in each playoff round last fall, has yet to pitch and is probably at least a month away. Lance Berkman has played just 13 games because of injuries. Allen Craig, Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker and Kyle McClellan have missed considerable time for St. Louis, which had lost seven of 10 entering Saturday night's interleague game against the Indians.

General manager John Mozeliak was pessimistic after a 6-2 loss to Cleveland on Friday night.

"Literally, we don't have the capacity to maintain a winning club throughout the year as we are today, as we're constituted," Mozeliak said. "Now, when you have seven or eight guys on the DL and you think there's a chance of getting four or five of them back, where they're going to contribute at some point, then the answer becomes when?"

The 25-year-old Garcia was a 13-game winner each of his first two seasons but hasn't felt right from the start of 2012, losing some speed on his fastball and struggling to find the proper arm slot. He lasted just two innings in his last start and is 3-4 with a 4.48 ERA.

"There's so many uncertainties with Jaime," manager Mike Matheny said. "For him to maybe have a break and come back better than ever is something I see as a positive."

In many of his early starts, Garcia thought perhaps he had a "dead arm" from last season when he worked a career high 194 2-3 innings and then made five starts in the postseason. So he tried to work through it.

Matheny hadn't noticed any problems with the left-hander, who had a season-best nine strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings at San Francisco on May 16 and then worked seven solid innings in a win at home over the Padres. But Garcia knew he was winning with less than his best, estimating he pitched at 50 percent to  60 percent effectiveness at times.

"It's not so much the results," Garcia said. "I know myself and I know I was only going to be hurting the team."

Before consulting doctors, Garcia had been somewhat concerned the problem was mental. Team trainers had been unable to pinpoint a hot spot.

"To be honest, it's a little relief that it wasn't all in my head, that I was never going to be the same guy I used to be," Garcia said. "That it's something we can work on and fix, yeah, it's a little relief.

"Now we make it better and go back out there."

Right-hander Joe Kelly will make his major league debut Sunday against the Indians, taking Garcia's spot in the rotation. The 24-year-old Kelly was 2-5 with a 2.86 ERA at Triple A-Memphis.

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