PEORIA, Ariz. -- If blowing out his right knee wasn't bad enough news for pitcher Steve Garrison, the prospect of tumbling off the 40-man roster certainly was.
In October, Garrison tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee trying to field a bunt in an Arizona Fall League game. Days later, on the drive home to New Jersey with his girlfriend, Garrison found himself pondering his future.
"I was talking to my agent and thinking that it wasn't very likely the team would protect me [on their 40-man roster]," Garrison said.
The timing couldn't have been worse but the result was perfect for Garrison, who, even though he won't be able to appear in a game until midseason, was protected on the 40-man roster mere days later.
"I was fortunate that [general manager] Jed Hoyer and the Padres believed enough in me to protect me," Garrison said Friday. "That helped my attitude out toward getting back to being healthy again."
Garrison, a 23-year-old left-hander, is in camp this spring three months removed from a surgery to repair his torn ACL. He's been able to play long toss but won't be able to run for another month or so. His hope is to pitch in a game this summer.
Garrison, who was obtained from the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2007 deal that sent relief pitcher Scott Linebrink packing, was 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in six starts in the Arizona Fall League. He suffered the injury in his last start on Nov. 14.
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"I was doing great, it was my last outing ... so that's pretty hard to deal with," Garrison said. "I was starting to feel healthy and strong, and to go down with the knee, that was tough."
He had surgery on Nov. 25.
The Padres' decision to keep him on the 40-man roster lifted his spirits. So has what he considers to be a smooth rehabilitation period that has included no pains or setbacks thus far.
Garrison was limited to 34 innings last season because he was coming off a partially torn rotator cuff. He thinks the ACL injury may be a blessing of sorts because it's allowed his right shoulder to heal more.
But now here in Spring Training, surrounded by a bevy of healthy pitchers, Garrison has found he really has the itch to pitch.
"I'm hoping to get at least half a season. I don't want to rush anything, because of as right now, everything feels great," he said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.