Giese Thriving in Scranton Rotation

Giese has given up two earned runs or more twice

Dan Giese has a story that's equally as amazing as his 2008 season. After briefly retiring from baseball in 2005, returning in 2006, and then finally making his major league debut last season, Giese returned to Scranton. Now, in a new role, Giese is thriving, and he soon may get a chance to live another one of his ultimate dreams - pitching at Yankee stadium.

"It's nice to be back, I'm familiar with the whole area, and now the clubhouse is great. I just love being back here," Dan Giese said.

He spent four seasons as a reliever for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, posting 204 innings and a 3.35 ERA. He even won the Red Barons Pitcher of the Year award after winning 12 games out of the pen in 2004.

After briefly retiring during the 2005 season, and returning to the Phillies in 2006, Giese signed with the San Francisco Giants and worked his way up to the majors, posting a 4.84 ERA in nine innings during the final month of play.

Giese met with several teams this off season, but the Yankees made it clear that they have used the most pitchers in the past three years, and he was immediately interested.

"They did not have any specific role for me in mind when I first joined up, but I've learned that you have to play yourself into a role," he admitted.

He reported to Spring Training and made his case for a bullpen job, but was ultimately optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he would serve as an important and experienced bullpen component for a pitching-heavy team.

Unfortunately, Alan Horne injured his bicep in the second week of the season, and the Yankees needed a starter. The team turned to Giese, who had never started a game in his ten year career.

"It was sort of an emergency situation, they just told me I was starting," Giese recalled. "This whole thing kind of just fell into my lap. Alan got injured and the ball was handed to me.

"The closest thing I had to a starting a game was starting a rain delay earlier in my career, but I just told myself that and it helped me stay relaxed and keep my head straight," he added.

Giese had a 50-pitch limit in his first start, which was against the Durham Bulls. He allowed three hits and one run in four and two-thirds innings, striking out two. Through his next eight starts, he never allowed more than two runs and held opponents to a .197 batting average.

By May 25th, he led the International League with a 1.01 ERA, and hadn't allowed a home run. Giese has built up his arm strength and is able to make about 100 pitches per start now.

"I haven't changed my approach to pitching, but each day, my workouts have changed," he revealed. "Right now I'm running more and throwing more bullpen sessions between starts."

Giese, who throws a fastball, a curve and a slider, is also working on adding a changeup to his repertoire. Mastering an offspeed pitch will help Giese keep hitters of balance and make him a more complete starting pitcher.

"I think its coming along good. I've only thrown it a few times in bullpen sessions, it's definitely not ready for games yet, but its coming along and I could use it soon," Giese sai of his new pitch.

Catcher Jason Brown, who frequently catches Giese's bullpen sessions, raved about the pitcher, and his new changeup.

"It looks good, but it looked good from the beginning too. He threw maybe five today," Brown said after Giese's Sunday morning session. "They were all down. He was able to get it down an away to a lefty, so he is getting what he wants from it. He has a good arm speed too.

"I think [Dan] is major league ready; he has been doing so well here. He's taken his opportunity, he's been pitching great, and his changeup is just another pitch for him now. When he adds that to what he already has in two solid pitches, he is going to get even better," Brown added.

Giese is not sure if his move to the rotation will be permanent, but after recording a 2.05 ERA and striking out 43 in 52.2 innings as a starter, the Yankees may have found the long reliever they've been searching for.

"I have no idea what's going to happen, it's pretty much up to the organization and what they want to do," said Giese. "I'd like to make this a long-term thing, I'm really enjoying it, but if they need me to go back to the bullpen I'd be more than willing to do that.

"Getting to play in New York would be my ultimate goal, but for the short-term I just want to stay healthy and keep doing what I'm doing now."

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