On Monday night, during the Tampa Bay Rays’ home opener, Matt Garza pulled himself from the game in the 3rd inning with an injury to the radial nerve in this throwing arm. Following the game, Garza was placed on the 15-day DL. He will rest the arm for two weeks and then be reevaluated. He will be out a minimum of four weeks.

According to Garza, this is a problem that he has experienced since his time with the Minnesota Twins.

Garza said it surfaced late last season, with him typically “pitching through it.” But after his hand started going numb, forcing him to lose grip on his pitches, he signaled to the dugout for help…”This time it was just real bad,” Garza said. “I knew something was up.”

The Rays apparently knew that Garza suffered from a similar condition in college, but were unaware the condition still existed when they sent former top pick Delmon Young to the Twins, along with Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie for Garza, Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Morlan. If the Rays can prove the Twins knew of the preexisting injury, they could file a grievance with Major League Baseball and seek compensation from Minnesota.

This would not be unprecedented. A year ago, the Cincinnati Reds filed a grievance with MLB after they learned that the Washington Nationals did not reveal that Gary Majewski had received a cortisone shot prior to being traded to the Reds. Majewski, a relief pitcher, was part of the six-player deal that sent Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals. Majewski subsequently went on the DL.

MLB never made a public announcement concerning the resolution, if any, to the grievance. We contacted John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. According to Fay, no ruling has been given by MLB and he does not expect one. However, he notes that the Reds say that the issue is still being considered by Major League Baseball.

When asked about Garza’s injury, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, claims that Garza never mentioned the injury to the team.

“He never missed a bullpen [session] or a start [here]. I don’t know what he’s saying. I haven’t read it and don’t plan on reading it, just based on what you said. Everything was documented on Matt Garza and there were no injuries here…If he said he was hurt, I’m not going to call him a liar or anything like that,” Gardenhire said. “But he should have let us know that he might have had an injury. Normally, it’s good when the team you are pitching for knows that. But I doubt that he had any injuries here.”

It would be very difficult for the Rays to prove that the Twins hid the condition, so it is conceivable they could forgo the grievance and just hope that Garza is ok. On the other hand…no offense to Majewski…but Matt Garza is not Gary Majewski. Garza was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and the Rays were forced to give up a potential all-star and former #1 overall pick, Delmon Young, in order to secure his services.

If Garza’s injury requires a stay on the DL longer than a few weeks, the Rays will almost certainly seek compensation from the Twins.

But what kind of compensation would be fair? Certainly the length of time Garza is on the DL will be considered as well as any long-term ramifications of the injury. It could be another prospect, a compensatory draft pick, cash, Joe Mauer*??

This story is flying a bit under the radar at this point, but considering the names of the players involved in the trade, the story will gain a national audience if the Rays do feel the need to file a grievance. And if the Rays do ask MLB to intervene, MLB won’t be able to sweep it under the rug as they did with Gary Majewski.

*Wishful thinking

Rays starter Garza goes on DL with nerve injury [St. Pete Times]
Rays DH Floyd out 4-6 weeks with knee injury [St. Pete Times]
Reds File Grievance Over Majewski Deal [Washington Post]
Red Send Kearns, Lopez To Nats In Blockbuster [MLB Trade Rumors]
Garza’s injury admission new to Twins [MLB]

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12 Comments

  1. Katie says:

    Something does not smell right to me about this whole issue. And I really hate to see the bizarre issues with Gardenhire and Garza resurface.

    My best guess is that if Garza did suffer with this during his time with the Twins, he didn't say anything about it because his spot in the majors was always so tenuous to begin with.

    I don't know about Joe Mauer (although, personally, I'd trade him to you for Jason Bartlett back), but I'm sure we'd all be more than willing to throw Juan Rincon back into the deal for you as compensation. He is, unfortunately, completely healthy.

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  2. Sunny says:

    I wasn't surprised when this surfaced at all. Garza may very well have hid the injury. It's not the first time he's shown signs of having a million-dollar arm and a .50 cent head.

    Caveat Emptor for the Rays, but you can't really be cautious when the player is less than forthcoming about giving full disclosure regarding his body.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    In every case where a team gets compensation, the compensating team had treated the injury and then hid it. The Twins never treated this injury because Garza hid it from them. So the Rays would not be entitled to compensation.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I can't imagine that the Twins would cover up an injured player in a trade. They have a good reputation and doing so could make it difficult to make trades in the future. It's far more likely that Garza hid the condition from the team. It's also probable that Garza didn't consider the condition to be serious and may have even considered it normal post pitching pain.

    Maybe Delmon Young will go on the DL next year and they'll be even.

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  5. The Professor says:

    there are two questions:

    1. Did the Twins know about the condition? That is almost certainly a 'Yes' as this has been happening since he was in college and I seriously doubt that the Twins would not have known about a player they drafted and another team would.

    2. Did they know it was still going on in their organization. Even if Garza downplayed it, if they knew at all, and did not include it in his medical history, then there is at least some fault

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  6. Pave the Whales says:

    I'm guessing that Garza hid his problems from the Twins. He had a stormy relationship with Gardenhire already and was also upset about having spent so much time in the minors.

    Francisco Liriano hid his problems the year before. This has happened with several young Twins pitchers and players, who know that Gardenhire is just itching to supplant them with low-talent veterans.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Nice trade for the Twins here! Garza is a headcase and always has been. This was a good trade for the Twins and will work out in their favor. Bartlett is a solid shortstop but still middle of the pack in the AL. Nothing special here. Delmon Young will turn out to be a great player for the Twins and an all-star. Good attitude and teammate too!! Sorry Tampa, your destined to be losers forever!!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    If the Twins indeed did know that Garza had this injury last year, then why were Boof Bonser and Kevin Slowey rumored to be offered to the Rays before they asked for and got Garza?
    Fact is, the Twins wanted to keep Garza and only included him because the D-Rays insisted on him being part of the deal.

    I can see Garza hiding this injury from the Twins organization and it unfortunate for the Rays that he had to do so because now they have a tender armed pitcher sitting on the DL.
    My point is that if the Twins knew about this condition and were trying to hide it, why wouldn't they have come to the Rays offering him in the beginning.

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  9. LAViking says:

    It is unlikely that the Twins knew about this. In fact, it is well-documented that Garza either hides these sorts of injuries or fabricates them. The year prior (2006), the Twins called him up late in the year after he had a simply amazing run in the minors. He pitched poorly after he was called up.

    Then, about three months after the season ended, he claimed that he pitched poorly because he was suffering from tired arm. However, he never actually told anyone about it during the season, and Twins management and coaches all immediately went on record that he never mentioned this to anyone.

    This year, he's got a new injury that he supposedly suffered last year. Is it really an injury or just a convenient excuse? Regardless, it would not be the first time that he mentioned the injury months or years after supposedly suffering it.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if we did the right thing here. I would have thought that the brass would have looked into a players mental state before trading for them. We got this guy for Young???
    I know that Young had a volatile past, but at least it was his past. Now we got to deal with someone who is using someone else as a scapegoat for his past mistakes. If he was pitching through pain, why didn't he at least tell the staff about it earlier in the game? Man, the athletes need to get a clue.
    This really sucks, absent documentation, we got SCREWED!!!!!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Both teams were unloading players they had problems with. I doubt the Twins knew about Garza's injury, but they may well have seen evidence of it in how well he pitched toward the end of the season. But then, Tampa's scouts could have seen the same evidence. Unless there is more to this, there is nothing Tampa can do. Injuries are part of the game.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Garza was mad at the Twins organization for trying to help him have a better pitch selection. He didn't believe them that his pitches would not work in the majors and he refused to relent. His pitch selection may work in the minors but obviously it isn't working in the majors and he is too stubborn to change to reach his full potential.

    Injury? My ass. Simply put, he is a dumb ass who is blaming everyone else but himself for his poor pitching ability in the majors.

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