LOS ANGELES -- Reaching the Major Leagues might have seemed only a pipe dream to new Padres relief pitcher Frank Garces, who was released by the Rangers after his first season of professional baseball in 2009.
The Padres saw enough in Garces, a left-hander who made his big league debut Tuesday, to sign him in 2011 and give him a chance. Score one for the Padres' international scouting and player development staffs.
"My main thing when I got to the Padres was focusing, working hard and listening to people," Garces said on Thursday. "They helped me a lot. They helped me get better every day and to get here."
Garces, 24, a starter as recently as last season, was moved to the bullpen by the player development staff because they felt his stuff would play better. It did with Double-A San Antonio this season, as he had a 2.07 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 61 innings with just 44 hits allowed before his promotion.
"I feel more comfortable in the bullpen. I can execute pitches better, can work faster and I'm able to attack the hitters better," Garces said.
When the Padres needed a pitcher on Tuesday, they looked to Garces. They have to make a decision after the season on whether to protect him on the 40-man roster. He turned in a 1-2-3 inning on Tuesday.
"Our evaluators that saw him thought he was the guy that was standing out as far as someone who might be Major League ready to help us," Padres manager Bud Black said.