By Shannon Drayer
Shortly after news got out that the Mariners were going to sign Jon Garland to a minor-league contract, I received a text from a scout who said he believed Seattle may have found something in the pitcher who had been out of the game since 2011.
While with the Dodgers that year Garland began to feel pain in his shoulder. He threw his last game on June 1 and had season-ending surgery shortly after. He agreed to a minor-league contract in 2012 with the Indians but as he prepared for spring training he realized that physically he was not ready to go.
New Mariner Jon Garland last pitched in 2011 with the Dodgers, missing last season while continuing his recovery from a right shoulder injury. (AP)
"I thought, when I get into spring training and really bring on a workload, I'm not going to hold up," he remembered. "And I wasn't going to go into a team knowing that in my mind and my heart, I wasn't going to do that. I think it is one of the best decisions I made and I think it's going to show this year.
"I think I am going to prove it to a lot of people."
Garland, who prior to 2011 had not started fewer than 32 games in a season since 2002, worked out for representatives from several teams this winter and had a few teams looking at him for possible rotation spots. He liked what he saw in the Mariners, and a phone call from manager Eric Wedge locked him in.
Having already thrown two bullpens in Peoria he said that he felt strong and ready to go. Despite coming off injury, he is on the same program as the other pitchers, and insists he would have it no other way.
"The situation I am in, where I am in my career, I don't want to hold back," he said. "I don't want to try and take extra days here and there. I want to go full bore and to make sure I am capable of doing this for a full season. I want to find out now what I am capable of and I don't want to take a spot up on this team if I can't help them through a full season."
As for the team around him, the veteran of 12 big-league seasons likes the moves that general manager Jack Zduriencik made in the offseason.
"I think a lot of people could be surprised. If you keep everyone healthy for a full season, go out there and and everybody does what they are capable of doing, sometimes it is good to be that underdog and almost forgotten about because you could shock a lot of people, and I think this team has that opportunity," he said.
One addition he said Seattle should be particularly excited about it Kendrys Morales, who was a teammate of Garland's in 2005.
"This guy comes to play every day," he said. "He's a switch hitter that has the chance to hit .300 with 30 home runs every year and he's not talked about like a Josh Hamilton or some of these other guys. A guy like that, you don't talk about him or if he thinks he is underrated – that could just drive him more."
Garland is anxious to see how the team comes together. He feels confident that he is healthy and ready to resume his career, and he hopes to be in Seattle on Opening Day.