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Veteran Garcia battles in 1-frame spring debut

Lefty allows 2 runs on 2 hits as he gets feel for game action
MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Blue Jays pitcher Jaime Garcia was more interested in the process than the end result in his spring debut on Sunday. The veteran left-hander allowed two earned runs on two hits in his lone inning of work in a 4-2 loss to the Phillies at Spectrum Field.

"My goal today was just to kind of get a feel for things with my four-seamer, my cutter and my fastball," Garcia said. "I only threw one slider, on the last pitch I threw."

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Blue Jays pitcher Jaime Garcia was more interested in the process than the end result in his spring debut on Sunday. The veteran left-hander allowed two earned runs on two hits in his lone inning of work in a 4-2 loss to the Phillies at Spectrum Field.

"My goal today was just to kind of get a feel for things with my four-seamer, my cutter and my fastball," Garcia said. "I only threw one slider, on the last pitch I threw."

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Carlos Santana led off the fourth against Garcia with an opposite-field single and moved into third after Philly's top prospect Scott Kingery doubled off the base of the wall in right. A ground ball by Odubel Herrera scored Santana and Kingery scored on a throwing error before Garcia struck out Jorge Alfaro to end the inning.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was just happy to get the team's newest addition out on the mound.

"It was good to see him out there," Gibbons said. "One thing about him is that he's got a great feel for pitching."

Injury updates
• Outfielder Steve Pearce left in the third inning with a strained left calf muscle. Pearce, who got the start in left field and singled in his lone at-bat, limped off the field during between-inning warmups and was escorted back to the visitor's clubhouse by team trainers. Pearce will have Monday off and be re-evaluated Tuesday.

"He was a little cramped up. I think that's all it is," Gibbons said.

• Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki remains on track in his return from a heel injury but no timeline has been set for when he might see game action. On Sunday, Gibbons didn't completely rule out Tulowitzki's return for Opening Day but admitted it was increasingly unlikely.

"I don't expect him to be ready, but he is moving in the right direction," Gibbons said.

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Infielders Yangervis Solarte and Gift Ngoepe -- who played Sunday -- have seen increased time at shortstop should Tulowitzki be unable to start the season.

• Gibbons said the team will continue to monitor the playing time of second baseman Devon Travis, who has lingering effects from a minor knee injury. The team plans to continue using him on alternating days until he works his way up to playing a full six or seven innings before playing him in the field on consecutive days.

"Watching him move around, run around, you probably would never know it. That's kind of the way it looks to me," Gibbons said. "Hopefully that's a good thing."

Position battle
Gibbons said the competition for the back end of the bullpen has been good, especially for the younger hopefuls.

"There's a couple spots [still undecided] and I think that brings out the best in guys," Gibbons said. "Some guys have minimal shots, some guys have better opportunities, but I think it kind of drives some guys. There's nothing worse than going to a place where there is no hope and you're just out there knowing you are going to Triple-A or something like that.

"And if a couple guys we like don't start with us, they could end up with us quick. You know how quickly it changes."

Righty Ryan Tepera threw a scoreless seventh, striking out one and walking one. Craig Breslow, competing to win the second bullpen lefty, allowed two runs on three hits and a walk, and was tagged with the loss after registering just one out in the eighth. Taylor Guerrieri, another righty in the bullpen mix, was called on to get the final two outs of the inning.

Zeke's return
Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera returned to big league camp in Dunedin as a non-roster invitee on Sunday. The team designated the 30-year-old left-handed hitter for assignment on March 1 to make room on the 40-man roster for free agent signee Seung Hwan Oh. Carrera cleared waivers and accepted a Minor League assignment.

"Who knows how things shake out in the long run anyway," Gibbons said. "We know what he can do, and he's been very productive for us."

Up next
The Blue Jays have an off day on Monday and will return to action Tuesday when they host the Braves at 1:07 p.m. ET. Right-hander Joe Biagini will get the start, with Josh Donaldson scheduled to make his spring defensive debut at third base. Sean Newcomb will get the start for the Braves. The game will be broadcast live on MLB.TV.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Toronto Blue Jays, Jerad Eickhoff