Friday, January 13, 2012
#663) DANNY GARCIA
Danny Garcia was selected by the New York Mets in the fifth round of the free agent draft on June 5, 2001. The Pepperdine University star began his professional baseball career with the newly formed Brooklyn Cyclones on July 1st. "For his first seven contests with Brooklyn, Garcia made a key play in every game." recalls Ed Shakespeare of the The Brooklyn Paper. Danny and his aggressive style of play quickly advanced through the Mets minor league system. "Just hard-nosed," Garcia explained. "I'm not the type of player who's going to have three days where I run hard and the other four days not run hard."
The Mets rewarded Danny when rosters expanded, and promoted him from Triple-A Norfolk. He made his big-league debut at Shea Stadium on September 2, 2003. Daniel Garcia, Sr. traveled from southern California to New York and witnessed the event. He was in the stands when his son singled in his first major-league at-bat during the Mets 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves. "I'm just glad that all the work in the winter and all the swings I've taken and all the preparation is paying off," Danny said afterward. "I knew it would." He also had an opportunity to show his grit to the hometown crowd by hanging in at second base during a contested double-play. Marcus Giles attempting to break up the play slid hard into Garcia, who was able to still make an accurate throw for the out. "That's what I do," said Danny while receiving treatment from the trainer following the game. "If he's standing there, I'd do the same thing. I told him that."
Danny's favorite day as a New York Met came during an afternoon contest at Shea on September 10th. "It was the day I hit my first double and first major-league home run off Mark Redman of the Marlins." Garcia shared. "After the game, I was scheduled to take a limo to Brooklyn to throw out the first pitch of their Championship Game. It was a surprise to me that Steve Correa (a college friend also drafted by the Mets) was able to catch my first pitch. What a day. A dream come true." The Cyclones granted Danny the honor due to his distinction of becoming the first player in their history to reach the major leagues. An accomplishment celebrated again with a bobblehead giveaway at KeySpan Park in 2004.
Garcia appeared in 19 games for the Mets to close the 2003 season. During 56 at-bats he hit two home runs, drove in six runs, but only managed a .214 batting average. A fact that might have led to his beginning the 2004 season back with the Norfolk Tides. "I don't have anything that really stands out," Garcia told the Bergen Record. "But I can do a lot of things if you give me a whole season. Everybody talks about how valuable an experience it was, and it's completely true. When things are new you are not comfortable in your environment."
José Reyes suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to the disabled list in late April. The Mets recalled Garcia to play second base during the infielder's absence. Danny delivered in a starting role by going 6-for-12, with one home run, and four RBIs during his first week back in New York.
Garcia continued to impress the Mets staff with his hustle, but slumped at the plate following a thumb injury. Danny saw his playing time diminish due to the emergence of Ty Wigginton as the everyday second baseman. The Mets wanted to see him continue to develop through regular action. To accomplish this they returned the young player to Norfolk on June 9th. "It never feels so great to go down, but I completely understand," Garcia said. "I think there's good both places."
It was a brief move that only lasted until August. Danny's return to New York would continue through the end of the season. In total he appeared in 58 games and contributed three home runs, 17 RBIs, and a .232 batting average during 2004. The Mets were unable to find a permanent roster spot for him, and he was released on March 16, 2005.
Danny played in the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees systems before joining the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League in 2007. Following his playing career, Garcia was able to remain in baseball as a trainer. He was named the Mariners minor league system's Coordinator of Sports Science and Performance in 2010. Working with Peak Performance Project he became part of an innovative conditioning program with Seattle.
Danny Garcia signed his card in the set from a request sent to the Seattle Mariners on January 13, 2012. Adding the date of his fondest memory at Shea Stadium.