“I Just Want to Win”
Steve Garrison (left) and Derek Jeter (right) celebrate a win at Yankee Stadium
Players who have enjoyed experience in both affiliated baseball and independent baseball will often note the clear distinctions between the two. In affiliated baseball, there is more of an emphasis on player development. In independent baseball, it is all about winning. Enter the newest signing for the Long Island Ducks, 27-year-old Steve Garrison.
“Playing in affiliated baseball, [player development] was something that I was definitely appreciative of,” Garrison said on Monday via telephone. “But now as I am older, I just want to win.”
Garrison is entering his 10th season in professional baseball but his first with the Flock and in the Atlantic League. In fact, it will be his first outside of affiliated baseball in any league. With the left-hander bringing the roster to 19, Ducks fans can thank 2013 catcher Ralph Henriquez for Garrison’s interest in the Ducks.
“He’s a real good buddy of mine, and we played together and roomed together with the Mariners organization last year,” Garrison recalled. “When I told him about my release, he told me how much fun he had with the Ducks. I told him I would love to play, and then he gave me the information and put in the good word.”
The former 10th round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers spent Spring Training in Sarasota, Florida with the Baltimore Orioles – a mere 13 miles from Bradenton where Henriquez spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Garrison said it was Henriquez’s love for his time with the Ducks that drove him to Long Island.
“He loved the fans, he loved the league and he loved the Ducks overall as an organization,” Garrison said of the former Ducks backstop. “He looked forward to going to the ballpark every day, and that is something that I want.”
In addition to the recommendation from his good friend, the opportunity to win played a large role in Garrison’s decision.
“I want to be somewhere where I am going to win,” he said. “I want to come to the field and win. The Ducks winning back-to-back championships was just the cherry on top.”
The southpaw has spent time in five different organizations, including a brief stint in the Major Leagues with the New York Yankees. Garrison made one appearance with the pinstripes on July 25, 2011 and worked two-thirds of an inning at Yankee Stadium. He faced Justin Smoak and Franklin Gutierrez of the Mariners and retired both on flyouts to close a 10-3 win.
“I was more nervous when I was jogging out to the mound than I was when I was actually pitching,” Garrison recalled. “I did not want to be the guy on the not-Top 10 as the guy who fell on his way to the mound.”
He later added, “While [reaching the Majors] was a dream of mine, it was something that makes you want to get back there that much more. That continues to be my drive; that continues to be my goal. I want to pitch well enough so I can get back to where I want to be.”
Garrison enters the Ducks pitching staff as a versatile left-handed arm. While he has made 133 minor league starts, Garrison views his role with the Flock more so as a reliever. It is a thought-process that stems from his time last year with the Mobile Bay Bears (AA, Diamondbacks) of the Southern League.
“Last year was the first year where I was strictly used out of the ‘pen, and I really did enjoy it,” Garrison said. “I enjoyed going to the ballpark everyday knowing that I could pitch.”
The Trenton, New Jersey native will be joining a bullpen that already consists of a strong left-hander in Eric Niesen along with righties Josh Lansford, Fernando Hernandez and Casey Barnes. Whether it be in a relief role or a starting role, Garrison is undoubtedly excited to contribute.
“I am happy to help wherever they need me. That is one thing I pride myself in. Whenever my name is called, I’ll be ready.”
As for his buddy Henriquez, he will be beginning the season with the Double-A Altoona Curve in the Pirates organization. The 26-year-old played in 79 games with the Flock last season as the back-up to Ramon Castro and hit .242 with seven homers, 28 RBI and 13 doubles. Following the season, he received a contract from the Pirates organization and now will begin his 10th professional season with his sights set on the big leagues.
Posted on March 31, 2014, in Player Signings and tagged 2014, Altoona Curve, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Championship, Long Island Ducks, Major League Baseball, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ralph Henriquez, Steve Garrison. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.