Garcia pitching again, could head to minors

After a partially torn tendon in his right forearm held him out of nearly all of spring training, Christian Garcia is throwing off the mound in Viera, Fla., and could join a minor league team and be pitching in games by the end of the month.

Garcia, a 27-year-old hard-throwing right-hander with a history of arm injuries, impressed in his brief stint as a September call-up last season.

The Washington Nationals hoped to stretch out his innings this spring. In mid-February, however, Garcia felt tightness in his forearm during a bullpen session during unseasonably cold weather.

Garcia, who is on the disabled list, missed the rest of the spring training and was cleared to resume throwing March 31.

Garcia has been throwing bullpen sessions, using only his fastball and change-up, Manager Davey Johnson said. The reports have been good, he added, and Garcia will start throwing his curveball Thursday.

The slow return to pitching isn’t because of any new setbacks; rather the team just wants to be cautious.

Even though he has had two Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgeries, the Nationals believed the regular work of a starter could be better for Garcia than relieving.

Despite the spring injury that set Garcia back, the Nationals still want to stretch him out into a starter and see how he responds on the mound.

“The plan hasn’t changed since spring training,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said.

Werth out of lineup

Jayson Werth was not back in the lineup on Wednesday, as previously expected, because of the wet conditions and the team doctor was scheduled to evaluate his tight right hamstring close to game time.

Werth, a starting outfielder, last played on May 2 in Atlanta.

Even though the Nationals hoped Werth would return for Tuesday’s game, Manager Davey Johnson didn’t want to risk further aggravation on a slippery field. The game was rained out. With wet conditions again on Wednesday, Johnson wasn’t willing to take the chance yet.

“I’d like to have him in the lineup but I want to be on the safe side,” Johnson said.

— James Wagner