But in his two-month crash course in the bullpen, Garcia learned one thing:
"When you're in the bullpen, anything can happen," Garcia said. "You have to be ready every day. I was ready every day."
Now he knows he will start Monday vs. the Rays in St. Petersburg, five days removed from his 2 1/3-inning Wednesday relief appearance after starter Andy Pettitte fractured his ankle on a comebacker. Garcia threw 32 pitches and retired all 10 Cleveland batters he faced, then threw 30 more pitches in the batting cage to stretch out his arm even more.
In his 14-year career, Garcia has 331 starts and only 12 relief appearances. Eight of those came this season after April ended with four starts, a 12.51 ERA and a pair of outings that didn't last two innings.
The right-hander allowed three runs in 17 1/3 innings out of the bullpen since.
"He's getting outs," said general manager Brian Cashman. "Freddy is someone who can figure it out. He's done it for so long.
"I was more surprised by how the season started for him than how he's been pitching lately. It's tough to take a veteran and get him to go to the bullpen, but he did it. He's waited for his opportunity and now it's come back around. I look forward to him taking advantage of it. I know what he's capable of doing. We've seen it before, and I hope we see it again."
Garcia said he wanted his rotation return to come on better terms -- with Sabathia and Pettitte landing on the disabled list on the same day -- but he's grateful for the opportunity. And even in the bullpen, he prepared for it as a starter.
"I've been throwing long toss almost every day, and I feel great," Garcia said. "I wasn't pitching that much, but I was looking for any opportunity every time they put me out there. I'm glad I did my job when they asked me, and now I'm looking forward to starting Monday."