Cannizaro Sets Sights On the Majors

Cannizaro Back in Trenton

Andy Cannizaro is five foot ten inches of pure passion when he steps on a baseball diamond. Despite spending three of his first four pro seasons as a member of the Trenton Thunder, Cannizaro remains confident that he can make it to the big leagues, either with the Yankees or one of the other 29 teams. <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

He almost always puts the ball in play and is one of the hardest players to strike out in the Eastern League. In 2003, he struck out on average only once per 15.4 at bats, best on the Thunder. Although he started last season on the Disabled List with a torn groin muscle, he came back to hit .314 with 18 doubles. Not many Thunder observers expected Cannizaro to be back with the team this year, but he is back for another tour of duty in the Eastern League.

Cannizaro isn't concerned that he is back with the Thunder again, he's just glad to be playing the game. "Not many twenty-six year olds can still go to the ballpark and get paid for it," said Cannizaro.

That doesn't mean that he is content to play AA baseball for the rest of his career though. "I just have to continue to impress. My goal is to play in the majors. I don't care with who." says Cannizaro.

Cannizaro said that last year was the first time he was injured and missed any part of any season he ever played professionally. Cannizaro's ability to bounce back and put up a stellar average while playing a steady shortstop shows his resiliency as a player.

Even though Cannizaro put up stellar numbers with Trenton last year, he wasn't disappointed and said it "wasn't hard to motivate" himself to come back to the Thunder this year. Cannizaro did say that one of the toughest things about the Yankees organization is that "the system is clogged. You can have a great year at Double-A but not know if you're going to move up to Columbus because no one moves up from Columbus." Cannizaro lets the fact that there are 29 other teams in Major League baseball and his confidence that if he doesn't make it to the majors with the Yanks, he will make it with another team motivate him to "be the first person on the field everyday."

Cannizaro has started the 2005 campaign slowly, only hitting .118 through the first five games. He is unconcerned about his slow start, however, saying "Everyone wants to have a good start to impress, but its four games in forty degree weather. It's a feeling out process early in the season. I just have to keep working in the cage and trust it out there. The results will come." This shows Cannizaro's desire to succeed that he would come back and work just as hard this year after he was passed over for a promotion to Columbus.

Cannizaro's father was a collegiate coach and Cannizaro attributes his work ethic to him. Cannizaro said, "My father taught me to always play the game the right way when I was young."

"I like to play with a chip on my shoulder. I want to prove all the doubters wrong." said Cannizaro. The confidence Cannizaro has in his abilities and his determination to succeed should go a long way to helping the 26 year old achieve his goal of playing in the Major Leagues.

As one of the longest tenured current Thunder players, Cannizaro brings a rare perspective and veteran quality to the clubhouse and feels like the team can beat anyone in the Eastern League at this juncture. He also feels that the regime change that took place this past off season will help the Thunder maintain their intensity throughout the entire season. "I loved playing for Stump and I feel like anytime you have a manager who has managed at the big league level, you can always learn something. For Masse, he's a high intensity guy and that helps keep you going. People forget that it's a long season and that the results will be good in July and August if you're still pumped." said Cannizaro.

This emotion and intensity that Cannizaro shares with Masse should help to finally bring Cannizaro to the next level and maybe to the Major Leagues. Cannizaro's fire and passion fro the game are intangibles that all players who make it share. Even if he doesn't wind up wearing pinstripes, expect to see Andy Cannizaro at a major league ballpark near you in the near future.

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