Garcia exits with elbow discomfort, placed on IL

May 2nd, 2023

HOUSTON -- One day after starting pitcher José Urquidy left a game with a shoulder injury that landed him on the injured list, the Astros’ rotation suffered another blow when Luis Garcia departed Monday’s 7-3 win over the Giants at Minute Maid Park after only eight pitches because of right elbow discomfort. On Tuesday, the club placed Garcia on the injured list with right elbow discomfort. Lefty Matt Gage was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land.

Garcia, who entered the game on a 13-inning scoreless streak, gave up a leadoff single to Lamonte Wade Jr. and worked a 2-2 count on Thairo Estrada when catcher went to the mound and signaled to the dugout. After a short meeting with a trainer and manager Dusty Baker, Garcia was removed from the game.

Garcia said he felt the pain around the fifth pitch he threw. He said he will undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Urquidy’s MRI, performed Monday, showed inflammation in his shoulder, and he’s shut down from throwing.

“He’ll be out a while; we don’t know how long until he gets better,” Baker said of Urquidy. “Hopefully he’ll be back relatively soon. We don’t know when. We just have to call upon whoever's the best available.”

, who joined the Astros earlier Monday as the roster replacement for Urquidy, worked four innings in relief, allowing two runs with three walks and six strikeouts. He’s the likeliest candidate to take over for Urquidy in the rotation.

The Astros’ pitching depth is being tested following the loss of Justin Verlander in free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury at the start of Spring Training. The only other healthy starting pitchers on the 40-man roster at Triple-A Sugar Land are and , the former first-round Draft pick who has a 6.00 ERA in 21 innings.

“That’s been my main goal my whole career is to work into the starting rotation with the Astros, and if I get that opportunity I’m going to take it and run with it,” said Bielak, who flew from Reno, Nev., on Monday morning.

Both Urquidy (Mexico) and Garcia (Venezuela) pitched in the World Baseball Classic in March, as did fellow starter Cristian Javier (Dominican Republic). The Astros urged ace lefty not to pitch in the WBC for the Dominican Republic, and he stayed in camp instead.

“I hate to think some of our guys, especially the Latin guys who went to the WBC, are coming up lame, and I hope that wasn’t the cause of the problem,” Baker said.

The Astros were remarkably healthy with their pitching staff last year, which was dominant in their run to the World Series championship. Maldonado said it’s time for others to step up.

“We also understand it’s part of the game,” he said. “On teams, you’re always going to need more than 26 guys. Look at Bielak. Came in today, flew today and stepped up big-time. We’re going to need what we’ve always been good at is somebody stepping up. I don’t know how serious it is, but at the end of the day, it’s about picking each other up. That's our philosophy.”

The abbreviated outings by Urquidy and Garcia didn’t prevent the Astros from winning both games. Houston broke open a tied game in the seventh Monday by sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring five runs. , traded from the Giants a year ago, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs against his former team and continues to excel while filling in for injured second baseman .

Altuve, who fractured his right thumb when he was hit by a pitch in the WBC, could be back by the end of the month, and outfielder -- out since last June following a shoulder injury -- could be back sooner. The Astros could have their full lineup intact for the first time this year by the end of May, but the health of the rotation is a growing concern.

“It’s tough watching Luis go down like that in the first inning, and [when] Bielak got off the plane and pitched the way he pitched, that’s a big help right there,” Dubón said. “To be able to come up with the win was big. It was a good day at the ballpark.”