Garza gets another big call

Garza gets another big call

DETROIT -- Matt Garza has seen his fair share of important calls this season during his rapid ascension through the Twins' Minor League system.

But there is no question the two biggest calls for the right-handed pitcher have come at the hands of Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan.

One of those came early on Tuesday morning when Garza got a call to go to Ryan's room in Rochester, N.Y., to hear the news of his promotion to the big leagues. It was the biggest news of his life, learning he would join the Twins and make his Major League debut on Friday against the Blue Jays at the Metrodome.

But while it was a life-defining moment, even Garza admits it may not have been the most important call from Ryan this year. Instead, that distinction may be placed on a call that came back early in the spring when the 22-year-old had already arrived in Fort Myers, Fla., a tad early to get some training in before Minor League camp began.

With the Twins limited in pitchers due to the number of players participating in the World Baseball Classic, Ryan called Garza to see if he was in town and could head over to the other side of the parking lot to take part in Major League camp.

"It was huge, man," Garza said of the opportunity. "Just to be around all these guys and just feel the atmosphere, I just wanted to come back. It made me work that much harder to get here."

It was during his time in camp that Garza really caught the attention of the Twins coaching staff with his poise and his ability to dominate while on the mound.

"We liked him right away and thought he had great stuff," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We thought that he would be a guy that would push along pretty good because of the way he handles himself. He locates the ball and has a great arm."

Garza certainly has wowed everyone who has seen him during his three stops through the system, going 14-4 with a 1.99 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 23 overall starts. Starting in Class A Fort Myers at the beginning of the season, even Garza had no idea this type of whirlwind would await him in his first full professional season.

"My goal was to get to Double-A at the end of the year," Garza said. "Just work my [rear end] off to get to Double-A and maybe see some time in Triple-A in August. I didn't think I'd be here in August."

While Garza's success had caught the attention of the Twins as they watched his progress through the farm system, the key to his call up seemed to be his ability to mix pitches and show he was, indeed, Major League ready.

That appeared to come in his last start -- against the Charlotte Knights, deemed to be the best team in the International League -- on Aug. 4, when he held the opponent scoreless while allowing just four hits over seven innings and striking out 11. This was a much different outing against the same club that he dominated with mostly just a fastball in a complete-game shutout a few weeks ago.

"I threw about 60 percent fastballs and the rest offspeed stuff, because they were sitting on dead red again," Garza said of his latest start. "You have to keep in mind to mix in a couple breaking balls and a [changeup] here and there."

With the upheaval the Twins have seen in the fifth spot so far this season, the club is hoping Garza can once and for all establish a solid presence at the anchor position in the rotation.

It's the same hope that Garza has for himself. Though the barrage of calls has been a good thing for the 22-year-old for most of the season, he's hoping now that he won't have to take anymore anytime soon.

"It was real exciting -- one of the best things that's ever happened to me," Garza said of his big league call up. "I just don't want to hear [a call] again. I want to just stay and not go anywhere."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.