How Detroit Tigers reliever Bryan Garcia found a 'sense of peace' in Triple-A Toledo

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PITTSBURGH — Detroit Tigers reliever Bryan Garcia doesn't like watching videos to solve his problems.

His body needs to feel everything, from the struggles to the successes. Recently, the 26-year-old has been tested with a slew of troubles. After one outing in August, Garcia told Triple-A Toledo pitching coach Doug Bochtler that three or four of his pitches just felt different — in the best way possible.

"He was like, 'It's kind of what I've been trying to tell you, but you feel it a different way than I explained it,'" Garcia said Tuesday at PNC Park, recalled to the big leagues to fill a spot in the bullpen. "Everybody has a different pitching language in their brain. It was just baby steps."

Eventually, his mechanics clicked. He felt confident again.

"Everything was out of whack," Garcia said. "I would work on something one day, throw a good pitch in a bullpen and be like, 'OK, let's repeat that.' And then you try to repeat it, and it's just not there. I broke it down and had to start thinking back to last year and the year before. What were the cues that I used to feel? We're moving so fast in our delivery, it's tough to pinpoint exactly what's going wrong."

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Tigers pitcher Bryan Garcia throws during the fourth inning of the Tigers' 11-7 loss on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Boston.
Tigers pitcher Bryan Garcia throws during the fourth inning of the Tigers' 11-7 loss on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Boston.

Over his past nine outings in Toledo, Garcia posted a 1.50 ERA, four walks and 10 strikeouts over 12 innings. He worked multiple innings three times during that span, giving the Tigers another incentive to bring him back.

Working with Bochtler only took Garcia so far. He also had to reframe how he approached the final two months of the 2021 season.

"Let's finish up this year and build on this year, wherever we are," Garcia said. "And then carry it into next year. Regardless of where you are, start feeling those mechanics while you're pitching so you can carry it into the offseason and into spring training.

"Once I stopped worry about getting back up here, I started pitching better."

Still, Garcia can't boast about his overall numbers.

He has a 7.31 ERA with 20 walks and 28 strikeouts over 32 innings for the Tigers in 2021, after serving as last year's closer and beginning this season on the Opening Day roster. In Toledo, Garcia recorded a 5.40 ERA over 23⅓ innings for the Mud Hens. He was first optioned to Triple-A on May 31, then again July 7 after a month-long stay in the majors.

"Anybody that tells you, 'I go pitch the same way when I'm struggling,' I'd like to say they're lying," Garcia said. "It's tough, man. It's tough going out there when you know you probably don't got it, something's wrong and you can't figure it out. Luckily, I'm feeling good."

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Tigers pitcher Gregory Soto watches Bryan Garcia throw in the bullpen during practice on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Comerica Park, a day before Opening Day against the Cleveland Indians.
Tigers pitcher Gregory Soto watches Bryan Garcia throw in the bullpen during practice on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Comerica Park, a day before Opening Day against the Cleveland Indians.

Those numbers aren't at the forefront of Garcia's mindset anyhow, especially not with 22 games remaining. The Tigers have implemented workload restrictions to rookie starting pitchers Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, boosting their need for bullpen help.

And thus, Garcia gets a chance put himself back in the plans for 2022.

But he's not thinking about that, either.

"If I get to pitch or don't get to pitch, enjoy every day," Garcia said. "The last month or so, I finally felt different showing up to the ballpark. You notice a difference when you feel a sense of peace almost. It's felt awesome, and I just hope I can carry that over."

Miggy breaks record

Miguel Cabrera notched three hits in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, becoming the all-time leader in interleague hits with 369. (He then added a double in the first inning of Wednesday's game.) He also has 2,968 career hits and 502 home runs.

The 38-year-old — a 19-year MLB veteran — passed Ichiro Suzuki (368 interleague hits) to take the top spot. Cabrera needs 32 hits to reach 3,000 hits. Entering Wednesday, the Tigers had 22 games remaining in the 2021 season.

"It signals he's been in the league for a long time and has done a lot of good things," Hinch said. "He's able to play first base so he can get some of these at-bats. Miggy is going to have so many baseballs on his wall to show where he's at in the sport.

"At some point, all Tiger fans are going to enjoy Miggy's time on (the Hall of Fame) stage that we're watching other legends walk across. The interleague part of it, I think it's cool. We measure everything and have records for everything now. It does not shock me one bit that Miguel Cabrera is at the top of that list for hits. He's literally a legend and walks in and out of our clubhouse every day."

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Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) smiles at the batting cage before the game Sept. 7, 2021 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) smiles at the batting cage before the game Sept. 7, 2021 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Bryan Garcia found 'sense of peace' in Triple-A Toledo