Fourteen months after undergoing elbow surgery, Hawaii’s Rico Garcia has fulfilled his mission of making it back to Major League Baseball.

On Monday, the former Hawaii Pacific University pitcher made his long awaited Baltimore Orioles debut.

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“Just a whole lot of support from family and friends. The past year and a half or so, my family and my girlfriend and friends, they’ve been the big motivator for me,” Garcia told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “It gets real tough when you go to the field every day and you kind of do the same thing so just having that motivation really helps a lot.”

The Saint Louis graduate and Kapolei native was called up ahead of Baltimore’s four-game series in Toronto after enjoying a solid start to the minor league season across three levels. The free agent signing of the Orioles this past offseason struck out 29 batters in 18.2 innings with a 1.93 ERA.

In Monday’s debut, which was his first big league action since 2020, he worked two innings, allowing one run on two hits with one strikeout.

“I never knew if I would make it back to the Major Leagues or not but what I did know was that I’d be able to go the field and do everything that I can to get better every single day and just doing the things that people don’t see every day. That’s what is going to lead up to moments like yesterday and just being able to enjoy the sport that I love, that’s the motivator right there and just going out every day and sticking to your plan,” said Garcia.

The appearance made him just the fifth Hawaii-born pitcher in the last decade to appear in three different MLB seasons as the relentless road from recovery has led him back into the bigs.

“With this sport, anything can happen. Just doing what I need to do every day, that’s all that I can control, he said. “Being ready for when they call my name for the next time that it happens so just grateful for the opportunity everywhere I go and to just be able to represent Hawaii at the same time.”

Garcia, who previously played for the Rockies in 2019 and Giants in 2020, was not used in Tuesday’s 6-5 Baltimore victory in Toronto. The series will continue on Wednesday.