Thursday, February 12, 2009

Q & A with Dan Giese

It's easy to root for Dan Giese. He's the guy that gets overlooked, the underdog, the every man. Dan is a devoted family man and a man of deep faith. It's that faith that helped guide him through tough times and made the good times even better.

We had the chance to do a recent email interview with him. This is one genuine guy.

Q: You are just the second player out of Rubidoux High School in Riverside, CA to make it to the Major Leagues. What does that mean to you?

A: I think back to when I was a freshman in high school and how much I looked up to the upper classmen. I thought to myself, “These guys are awesome! I hope I can be as good as they are some day!” I used to think they were all the next Ted Williams. To be one of only two guys to ever reach the Major Leagues out of the entire history of the school is just mind boggling to me because I wasn’t that good. I just made sure I was one of the first guys to the field and one of the last guys to leave.

Q: When you were in high school could you ever have imagined pitching in the big leagues?

A: For some reason in the back of my mind, even when I was terrible, I knew I was going to someday play in the big leagues. I didn’t know if it was going to be as a pitcher or a position player, but for some reason I knew I was going to make it. I just never gave up.

Q: How/Why did you choose to attend University of San Diego?

A: I chose the University of San Diego because my brother went there and they offered me a partial baseball scholarship. I was very familiar with the school and it was close to home. USD has a large spot on my heart because it is where I met my wife, it is where I met some of my closest friends, and I matured the most in my life.

Q: The Red Sox selected you in the 34th round in 1999. Suddenly a California boy was playing pro ball in Lowell, MA. What was that transition like?

A: I remember getting the phone call from my scout (Harry Smith) and he told me to get a sport coat because I was going to Lowell, Mass. to play in the New York Penn League. Two days later I was on a plane and on my way to a dorm room at UMASS Lowell, with no air conditioning, no TV, and making $850.00 a month before tax and rent. I was in Heaven! I never got paid in my life, so a check of any amount was great. I signed for $1000.00, which was one trip to Best Buy to buy a video camera that I have used maybe 10 times.

Q: Despite putting up good numbers for the Sox organization you were dealt back home in 2002 to the Padres for Alan Embree. What was your initial reaction when you found out you were traded?

A: I was fired up! I thought I was going to have a Tony Gwynn career and play my entire career at home. I went from Trenton, New Jersey (AA Red Sox) to Mobile, Alabama (AA Padres) and sweat my butt off in the most humid weather of my life. I enjoyed my time with the Padres even though it wasn’t for long. It was great to be a part of a Major League trade and go to an organization that wanted you.

Q: You spent the next several years in AA and AAA in the Padres and Phillies organizations without a call up. Did you ever get to the point where you felt like giving up and looking for a new career?

A: I did. In 2005, I was in AAA for the Phillies coming off of my best year ever in 2004, when my wife was in a minor car accident while pregnant with our first child. It really put things in perspective. I was very frustrated with baseball and at that time I felt it would be better to go home and be with my wife than to continue playing baseball in AAA for the 3rd straight year. I retired from baseball, went home and finished my degree at the University of San Diego. After getting a taste of the real world, I wanted to give it one last shot. So here I am today.

Q: 2007 things start to turn around professionally for you and the Giants call you up for an eight game stint. Who told you that you had been recalled? What went through your mind on September 8, 2007 when you made your MLB debut?

A: I had my best year ever in 2007 in the Pacific Coast League. At the end of the season our manager Dan Rohn called me into the office and said, “You did a great job for us this year but we don’t have room for you.” I was disappointed. I thought to myself, “If I don’t get a shot after the year I had this year, I don’t think I will ever get a chance.”

Then the manager said, “But they have room for you in San Francisco!” I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. All those years of blood, sweat and tears had finally paid off. I made it to the Major Leagues. I immediately called my wife and was weeping like a baby. My entire life I just wanted to get one out in the big leagues and I was able to do just that. Everything now is just a bonus!

My first Major League game was against the Dodgers at AT&T Park. That is a huge rivalry. The game was sold out and was a tight ball game. Because the game was close I didn’t think I had a chance to pitch, but sure enough, “Get Giese going!” I couldn’t even feel the ball. The bullpens in SF are right on the field, so if you throw a ball in the dirt it rolls all the way down to home plate and you stop the game. Needless to say, I was petrified! Once I got onto the mound I settled down and pitched two good innings.

Q: You signed with the Yankees prior to last season. The Yankees rarely have a position open on the MLB roster, but suddenly there you are taking the hill on June 3 against the Blue Jays. What was it like pitching in Yankee Stadium?

A: The first time at Yankee Stadium was crazy. It was Joba’s first start and I was going to be pitching right after him. He only had a pitch count of around 50. I remember seeing all these fans lined up to see Joba’s first start. I just remember telling myself, “Lord, I am surrendering this outing to you, because if I try to do this on my own I am going to mess this up.”

I was able to relax and go out and have a quality first outing. I don’t think I threw a single strike warming up in the bullpen. I think Harkey (Bullpen Coach) thought, “Who is this guy, he’s terrible!”

There is nothing like running from the bullpen to the mound at Yankee Stadium. I felt like I was in a movie. I couldn’t believe that it was happening to me. All I remembered were all the World Series games I watched on television there and now I get to play on that field. It was definitely a dream come true.

Q: How does it feel coming to Spring Training knowing you're on the 40 man roster?

A: I think with the Yankees it doesn’t matter if you are on the roster. If you are the guy they want on the team, and you pitch well enough to deserve a spot, they are going to make a move to put you on the roster and take someone off. I am in a position where you have to have a sense of urgency, a “nothing to lose” mentality. You can never be complacent. I enjoy having this kind of pressure on me to do well. If I don’t pitch well, they can very easily take me off the roster. I think when guys get comfortable, that is when someone that is hungrier will take their spot. You can bet, I will be the most prepared and focused player that I can be on a daily basis. I just surrender each and every moment to the Lord and go to work as if I were working for Him.

Q: What do you do in your down time to relax?

A: I enjoy being active. My favorite activities are surfing, fishing, golfing and hanging out with friends and family.


My Pinstripes: Thanks, Dan for your open and refreshing answers! Good luck this Spring!

Dan Giese: You're welcome and God Bless.

4 comments:

  1. Nice interview, Drew! Looking forward to seeing Dan give his all.

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  2. great interview, what a class guy, hope to see him pitch in the new stadium this summer

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  3. Thanks Phillip. Dan definitely seems to be the real deal!

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