Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 4, 2013

Garcia glad to have chance to play ball

PRINCETON — David Garcia is California cool.

You oftentimes hear of the laid-back attitude of people from the Golden State, how they take life in stride and if by chance they are dealt lemons, they make lemonade.

In Garcia’s case his lemons were the fact that he was not drafted in baseball’s amateur draft about a month ago. He was, however, signed as a free agent and is now turning heads for the Princeton Rays.

“All the hard work you put in for a dream you want and I didn’t get it. It hurt real bad,” Garcia said of not getting that call during the draft. “I came back to the house and I didn’t want anything to do with the phone anymore after holding it for so long. I (later) saw there was a text message, then I got a phone call after that saying I got the chance to play with the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the best feeling I ever had.”

The disappointment turned to joy has the Gilroy, Calif., resident working hard to play the game which at first he did not care about.

“I got started when I was probably around 6 or 7,” Garcia said. “I didn’t even like baseball when I was growing up until I was about 10. I didn’t like it. I’m glad my dad kept me in it and didn’t let me quit. I love the game and now I’m here.”

So far this young Appalachian League season Garcia is batting .324, which places him among the top 10 hitters in the league. He has four doubles, a home run and three RBIs in his first two weeks as a professional baseball player. He has a simple approach to his hitting.

“Coming in I said I was not going to cheat myself, that I was going to give myself every opportunity to succeed. Coming up here knowing these guys throw hard, I am trying to just keep everything up at the plate simple, just trusting my hands, getting a lot of early work in, in the cage, and studying the game,” Garcia said. “If I am not playing, if I’m DHing, or any moment I get, I am always watching. I am never just sitting on the bench. I know this game is tough, so I can’t take any time off. There’s a lot of guys out here taking anyone’s spot, so I am not trying to give up my spot just yet.”

Garcia came to the Rays out of Cal State Monterey Bay, a Division II school. He had previously attended and played at San Jose City College and Mission College, all in his home state of California. Asked what the biggest difference between his college experience and what he has faced so far, Garcia was quick to answer.

“Pitching and playing with a great group of guys. They are all very talented from all over the world and there is great competition,” Garcia pointed out. “Pitching, these guys have strong arms, throw hard and are elite guys from all over the world. In college I would rarely see 92, 93 (mph). Here it’s consistent and these guys are tough.”

While Garcia is playing third base for Princeton, the hot corner is a relatively new position for him, one that he began playing in order to improve his chances of advancing in the world of baseball.

“I was always a shortstop, second baseman, majority second baseman in high school,” Garcia said. “In college my freshman and sophomore years I played shortstop and junior year at second base. My senior year, I guess to open up some opportunities for myself, to show that I could play more than one position, I told my coach to play me at third so I can learn, and luckily enough maybe that helped because they (the Rays) needed a third baseman here and now I am here playing third and I love it.”

Garcia has two brothers, both of whom played baseball. His older brother’s career was cut short due to Tommy John surgery, while his younger brother  who is going back to college, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school.

A fan of the Atlanta Braves and Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Greg Maddox in his younger days, Garcia now also has an affinity for the team close to his home, the San Francisco Giants. His favorite player, however, is Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees.

Garcia hopes to some day make it to the big leagues, but for now his goal is to do his best in Princeton.

“I hope to gradually get better,” Garcia said. “I know there’s a lot to perfect in my game. I’m trying to see what parts of the game I’m good at right now that are working and I’m really trying to find the ones that I need to improve. Every time I come out here to the field I work on the things I really need to work on more, just to even out my talent.”

Garcia and the Rays opened a three-game series Thursday night in Burlington. The team returns to Hunnicutt Field on Sunday to take on Pulaski.

— Contact Bob Redd at

bredd@bdtonline.com

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