Rich holding a Rich Garces bobble belly that was given away at a Nashua Pride Game
|Free Agent – No. --|
May 18, 1971 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|September 18, 1990 for the Minnesota Twins|
|Earned run average||3.74|
Richard Alan Garcés Mendoza, Jr. [gar-CESS] (born May 18, 1971 in Maracay, Venezuela) is a former right-handed relief pitcher in Major League Baseball. Nicknamed "El Guapo" (The handsome one), he played with the Minnesota Twins (1990, 1993), Chicago Cubs (1995), Florida Marlins (1995) and Boston Red Sox (1996–2002).
Garces was signed by Minnesota as an amateur free agent in 1987. After stints with the Twins, Cubs and Marlins, he pitched for the Red Sox, turning into one of the American League's premier setup men. He attained a cult status with Red Sox fans, as much for his girth as his performance. His weight was listed at 215 lbs, although it was undoubtedly significantly more. The Red Sox asked Garcés to lose weight over an off-season, which he did. His numbers were never the same after that, however, leading many to believe the drastic weight loss negatively affected his mechanics.
In 1999, Garcés posted a 5–1 record with 33 strikeouts, a 1.55 earned run average, and two saves, and earned one victory against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series. This was followed with a mark of 8–1, 69 SO, 3.25 ERA, and one save in 2000.
Although only 31 years old in 2002, Garcés' performance displayed a much-weakened arm strength. After his disappointing ERA of 7.59 in 21 innings, he was released by Boston. On January 22, 2003, he signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent, but he was released in March 2003 before the regular season started.
In a ten-year career, Garcés compiled a 23–10 record with a 3.74 ERA, seven saves, 53 holds, 296 strikeouts, 164 walks, and 341-1/3 innings pitched in 287 games, holding opponents to a .227 batting average.
In June 2005, Garcés signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox, pitched in the Gulf Coast League for the Gulf Coast Red Sox. He was released in October 2005. In 2007 and 2008, he served as a relief pitcher for the Nashua Pride of the independent Can-Am League.
Garcés played for the Venezuelan Professional Winter League in 2006, finishing 3–1 with 11 saves and a 2.31 ERA in 24 appearances for the Aguilas del Zulia. Based on this performance, Garcés signed a contract in February 2007 to pitch for the Nashua Pride with the hope of working his way back to the major leagues.
"Affectionately nicknamed 'El Guapo' by Fenway fans, the hefty righty signed with the Boston Red Sox in April 1996 after bouncing around several organizations. He shuttled between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket for a few years before landing a permanent middle relief job in Boston in 1999. While posting a 1.55 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 40 innings that year, Garces mysteriously established something of a cult following in the city, and heard his name exuberantly cheered whenever he trudged out to the mound." -- Gabe Leibowitz, excerpt from Baseball Library
Leibowitz here takes some poetic license with the story of his nickname. El Guapo was originally given to Garcés by then teammate Mike Maddux upon Maddux's comments on Garces' look-alike status with the villain in the movie ¡Three Amigos!.
- Duggan, Dan (21 February 2007). "El Guapo maps his comeback: Ex-Sox reliever Garces signs with Pride". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
- El Guapo Rides Again - Boston Magazine