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Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia ready for opportunity with Orioles

By Eduardo A. Encina

The Baltimore Sun

12:21 PM EDT, March 31, 2013

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia, who was signed to a minor league deal on Friday, arrived at the Orioles' minor league facility at Twin Lakes Park on Sunday morning, passed his physical and threw a bullpen session in front of Orioles coaches.

Wearing a No. 9 jersey without a name on the back, the 14-year veteran said he feels ready for the season – he threw five innings and about 80 pitches in last Saturday in his final start with the Padres before his release – and hopes he can get back to the big leagues with the Orioles.

Garcia will report to Triple-A Norfolk, where he said he will get five starts to see if he can help the major league club. Garcia said he can opt out after that time. He will make his first start for Norfolk on Sunday, he said.

“If I’m pitching good, hopefully I can stick with the club,” Garcia said. “I have five starts and if they don’t need me, I can go. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully, I’ll pitch the way they want me to pitch before I can get called up. It’s a good situation for me to play on the East Coast and get back to pitching.”

Garcia said he’s open to pitching as either a starter or reliever. Last season with the Yankees, Garcia pitched well out of the bullpen, compiling a 2.42 ERA in 22 1/3 relief innings. He was 5-6 with a 5.93 ERA in 17 starts in 2012.

“I did it last year and I was fine with that,” Garcia said.

Garcia said returning to the American League East and joining an Orioles team that appears to be on the upswing was alluring.

“They play unbelievable baseball, man,” Garcia said. “When you play in the division, the last month of the season, they made plays. It’s one of the toughest divisions in baseball. You’ve got the Yankees, Boston, to be right there, it’s pretty amazing. What they’re doing is pretty good."

Garcia added that he's know Orioles center fielder Adam Jones since he was a kid. He said when he was pitching with the Mariners, infielder Mark McLemore would bring Jones into the clubhouse often when they played in San Diego.