Faison Relishes Second Chance

Faison Has Life After The Padres

In just six years, outfielder Vince Faison's life has changed dramatically. Faison went from being a prized prospect in the San Diego Padres organization, to playing Independent League baseball for Jackson in the now-defunct Central League, to ultimately getting a second chance with the Yankees.

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"I learned this game can really humble you a lot," said the well-spoken Vince Faison. "One minute you're a well thought of first round pick, the next minute you're released."

The Georgia native was seen as one of the nation's top defensive backs coming out of high school. He committed to the University of Georgia to become the heir apparent to now Denver Bronco defensive back Champ Bailey.

Just a few months after committing to Georgia, Faison was selected with the 20th overall selection by the Padres in the 1999 entry draft. The decision was a no-brainer and he quickly signed with San Diego.

"Football was always something I was good at, but baseball was the game I loved, that made the decision easy," said Faison. "Despite the bad luck and injuries I've never regretted my decision once."

Things started off well for Faison as he hit over .300 in his first pro experience with the Padres Rookie League team in Arizona. But from that point forward, the injuries began to take their toll on his development.

"Injuries have plagued me," said Faison. "Every time I felt I was starting to progress as a player, another injury would spring up and set me back."

With the injuries mounting and production slipping, the Padres staff believed Faison to be expendable and traded him to Seattle in January 2004 in the Jeff Cirillo deal.

The 2004 season was his first in the Mariner organization and it is also was also season he would like to forget. Playing with four different affiliates, Faison was only healthy enough to have 116 at-bats. At season's end, Faison was given his out-right release.

Faison bounced back in 2005 with a newfound desire and for the first time a clean bill of health. He proceeded to pound Central League pitching to the tune of 48 extra-base hits. ,On August 22nd of last year the hard times, and hard work paid off as the Yankees signed him.

"I just feel blessed to be back in professional baseball, not to mention the honor it is to be playing for the most prestigious franchise in all of sports," added Faison.

The humble Faison believes he can excel on the field with his new club in Trenton, but realizes there is always room to grow as a player.

"As a player I try to stay away from naming individual strengths, because I believe every aspect of my game can and will improve with work and time," said Faison.

Thunder Manager Bill Masse believes the off-season workouts have really paid off for his new centerfielder.

"Vince is just a hard-nosed player who comes to the park every day ready to play and ready to win," said Masse. "His offense is inconsistent at times, but his defense and base running have been a tremendous plus for us thus far.

Not only does Faison want to make the jump to the "Bronx" one day, but he also wants to act as a leader and mentor to the younger players on this team.

"I've been in professional baseball a number of years now and I've seen the good and bad sides of the game. Hopefully I can point the young guys in the right direction," concluded Faison.

Masse shared the same sentiments when asked about Faison's leadership skills.

"He's just a quality person on and off the field," said Masse. "I hope the young guys look to Vince and follow his lead when it comes to being prepared and being a professional."

In six years a lot can change, but for Vince Faison he wouldn't change a single minute.

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