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Hot Seat: Pitching on hold for Shelby’s Lalo Garcia, but he’s making impact with bat

Hard-throwing Tigers senior is nursing an arm injury, but he’s contributing with other tools.

Lalo Garcia is a baseball romantic, calling it “a beautiful game,” so getting the chance to play at Muskegon’s historic Marsh Field in his senior season was a treat for him and his Shelby teammates.

He’d been wanting to play at Marsh for so long, he was willing to do it with one arm tied behind his back. (Part of that statement is kind of true, unfortunately.)

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound hard-throwing right-hander strained his pitching arm during an outing against arch-rival Hart on April 23, three days before Shelby took on Orchard View in a “Friday Night Lights” doubleheader at Marsh Field.

Garcia was unable to pitch at Marsh — he played left field and, at times, threw the ball back into the infield with his left arm — but he did the job at the plate by legging out a triple in Game 1 and going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored in Game 2.

The 18-year-old son of Eddie and Tonya Garcia, whose birth name is Eduardo Garcia III, has built a reputation on his pitching abilities but he’s a complete player. He’s the 10th four-year varsity starter in Hall of Famer Brian Wright’s 43 years as Shelby’s head baseball coach.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

“Lalo’s a kid that likes to play baseball. I keep challenging Lalo, ‘I think there’s more in there, Lalo.’ I keep challenging him, but he is a baseball player — he really is,” Wright said. “He’s a competitor, as you can see today (April 26 at Marsh Field) — he’s playing with half (his throwing) arm and he’s out there battling.

“You could give me a bunch of Lalos and I’ll tell you, the team’s going to be pretty darn good, you know.”

Shelby is currently 12-10 overall and 5-4 in the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division.

Garcia hasn’t pitched since he “tweaked” his arm, but he’s 2-0 on the season with a 0.62 ERA plus 33 strikeouts and five walks in 16 innings.

At the plate, he’s hitting .414 (29-of-70) with six doubles, four triples, and 28 RBIs.

Wright said that on a good day, Garcia’s fastball sits in the 86 to 88 mph range. He also features a hard curveball or slider and a bit of a change-up.

Garcia, who also plays shortstop when healthy, is taking his talents to Muskegon Community College where he plans to enroll in the welding program and join the baseball team.

“He’s a competitor at the plate, on the mound,” Wright said. “I’ve had a lot of kids pitch, but when he gets on that mound, sometimes almost to a fault he wants to throw it through a brick wall. But he’s a big-time competitor.

“We’ve had a lot of talks about, ‘You have to be coached hard. If you’re not, I don’t think you’re going to get where you want to be.’ And he’s embraced that,” Wright said. “We’ve talked about it a lot. I told him, ‘You’re only going to get to where you want to be if somebody pushes you.'”

Garcia may have pushed it a little too hard in that pitching outing against Hart. He was mowing through the Pirates lineup, piling up eight strikeouts and allowing just one hit through 2 2/3 innings, when he felt a pulled muscle. He said it dropped him but later acknowledged it scared him more than anything.

Three days after the injury, Garcia believed it was “just some pulled muscles in there.” He expects to pitch again this season, but he has not yet. According to Wright, Garcia has been receiving physical therapy twice a week on his pitching arm.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Garcia is a well-rounded athlete. He also played football and basketball at Shelby. His father was a wrestler at Shelby and the expectation from some was that Lalo would follow in those footsteps but he carved his own niche.

Lalo’s parents played a lot of softball when he and brother Danien were younger, so they developed a love for baseball.

Miguel Cabrera has long been Lalo Garcia’s favorite player, even more so after Garcia won a home-run derby hosted by “Miggy” in August 2022 at Detroit’s Corner Ballpark near Comerica Park.

Garcia still lights up when he talks about meeting and talking with Cabrera, who also autographed some items.

Much like Garcia admires Cabrera, Lalo has people looking up to him, too: Brothers Danien (16) and Vicente (8).

“I love him and it’s been fun playing with him,” said Danien “DayDay” Garcia, who has been helping to fill the void on the mound and at shortstop while his older brother works his way back to health.

“It’s pretty fun (watching him pitch), but you don’t get much action,” DayDay Garcia added with a grin.

Away from the baseball field, Lalo Garcia really enjoys welding and working on cars. He said his grandfather would frequently take him to the shop to work on vehicles.

At Muskegon Community College, Garcia is hoping to get the best of both worlds.

“I’m going to miss him, I really am,” Wright said. “He’s been a stalwart here for four years.”

CatchMark photos

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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