As a free agent this winter, Jon Garland said he always had the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the National League West, in mind.
He just didn’t expect his offseason to transpire the way it did.
Not that Garland is complaining. The Diamondbacks’ new No. 4 starter feels good about changing leagues, happy to leave the designated hitter behind.
He likes Arizona, even mentioning that he would like his time with the Diamondbacks to last well beyond the one guaranteed year they gave him.
Still, he sounds a little nonplused that he landed just a one-year, $6.25 million deal that included a mutual option for 2010.
“I really was,” Garland said, when asked if the off-season market surprised him. “I’m not going to say my true feelings about some of the stuff that went on, because I definitely feel there were some things going on. But it definitely wasn’t the funnest year to be a free agent, I can tell you that.”
In previous off-seasons, someone of Garland’s caliber – a pitcher with a long track record as a durable innings-eater – likely would have received more years and dollars. Even Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said he had not expected Garland to be a realistic option for the Diamondbacks, who rarely make big splashes in free agency.
Of course, there was the down economy, and Garland, who broke in with the Chicago White Sox, didn’t help his cause with the way he finished his only season with the Los Angeles Angels. In his final 14 starts, he had a 6.58 ERA.
He said it was a case of throwing too many bad pitches. He suggested a lack of consistency with his battery mate also played a part.
“I think I threw to the same catcher consecutively four times, maybe five times at the most,” he said.
“There might have been a stretch where something was working real good for me, and they’re switching back and forth and call two different games.”
Because he doesn’t expect to have one catcher exclusively with the Diamondbacks, one of his goals this spring training has been to get to know both Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero.
Garland said he hopes not to have to make a decision on the mutual option.
“I’d love for the team to get off to a good start,” he said. “I feel I’m fitting in pretty good with the team. I hope they see that.
“And maybe midway through the season we could tack on a year or two and maybe get something done. I truly hope I never see that option come into play.”
D’BACKS SEASON OPENER:
Colorado at Arizona, 12:40 p.m. Monday. TV: FSNA. Radio: 1490 AM