Utility Role Suits Garcia

Danny Garcia hopes to get back to New York

Skilled utility players in the big leagues fail to come around particularly often and Danny Garcia has a chance to emerge as one of them. Garcia sat down with us to discuss his role as a true utility man and what it will take to once again wear a major league uniform.


Danny Garcia, 25, signed as a minor league free agent on January 6, 2006, has been with the Columbus Clippers all season long, although he hopes a shot with the big league club in the Bronx is coming soon. Playing at the Major League level in the Big Apple is nothing new to Garcia, only it was in another part of town, Queens.

Last season, Garcia played in only two games for Buffalo, Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, before being sidelined the rest of the year with an injury. He was only able to muster a .232 average in 58 games with the New York Mets in 2004.

Being a former Mets' prospect with big league experience, Garcia feels he is close to playing in the big leagues once again. He is one of the better defensive infielders on the ball club and is one of the few to have that Major League experience on his resume. Garcia strongly believes the Yankees are aware of what he can provide for a big league team.

Garcia told PinstripesPlus.com, "I think the Yankees like me. I may be a solid few months of at-bats away from being a guy that could be called up at anytime. I just have to prove to them, offensively, that I'm back coming off my arm surgery."

A utility type ballplayer, who has the ability to play all over the diamond, can look very appealing for a big league club. Garcia may be in the right situation here in the Yankee organization with the many injuries New York has accumulated this early in the season.

The middle infielder has even started in the Clipper outfield this year and we all know the lack of security in the Yankee outfield with so many players getting a chance. Realistically, it is almost certain that Garcia will be not be playing in the Yankee outfield, however, it goes to show that Garcia could very soon be the next version of Miguel Cairo in pinstripes. Garcia would agree that the ability to play utility is going to help his cause.

"I haven't had the opportunity to play utility too much coming off this arm surgery. I only have one start in center field but once my arm starts to come around, I definitely think the utility thing is going to work out for me," said Garcia.

With so much talent on the defensive side of things, Garcia expresses that his main focus of improvement remains with the bat and hitting with consistency. He isn't worried too much about it down the road, however, he feels his bat is what is currently keeping him between the big leagues and the minors.

"I've been struggling a little bit. I don't feel it's my life-long problem, it's more of my immediate problem," admitted Garcia.

Even with the addition of big league experienced, middle-infielder Nick Green, Garcia refuses to feel any pressure to perform. The only pressure breathing down his neck is from himself. He reiterates that he is in a good situation in Columbus and a higher batting average is all that is believed to be keeping him from the Bronx.

"I'm in a good situation here. If I was hitting .300 right now and making the plays that I am at second base, I feel like I could go at any time," said Garcia.

The thought of playing in a Cairo type of role in New York is exceptionally exciting for Garcia. Obviously, it's tough to make the determination whether he will actually fill that type of role with the Yankees, however, the seeds have been planted and we'll have to see how they bloom.

Columbus Clippers manager Dave Miley admits that Garcia has struggled with the bat and remains unsure whether Garcia will make it up with the Yankees.

"Danny works hard. He's scuffling a bit hitting about .230 but he continues to work," said Miley.

Cairo is the type of player who exhibits an ability to plug the gap when at all possible. It's pretty safe to say if Garcia landed in the shoes of a player like Cairo, he would be satisfied.

"It seems like the New York Yankees fell in love with the guy (Cairo). They trust on him and depend on him. He really is their guy and I would love the opportunity to turn into a player like that," said Garcia.

The 2006 season has displayed its ups and downs for Garcia. His defensive approach to the game seems to be Major League ready and more consistent at-bats are the key ingredient in making the jump to the big leagues.

"Defensively, I think I've shown everybody that I'm back being able to make some throws. Now it's just about being a little more consistent at the plate," said Garcia.

It's been a couple years since Garcia has tasted big league ball and sometimes a player can forget that sense of aroma. Just looking at his demeanor, Garcia hasn't forgotten what the big leagues are all about and he is hungrier than ever to get back and prove his critics wrong. How ironic that his next big league trip could very well be just a few miles from where it all began.


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