Padres Prospect Interview: Steve Garrison

Injury claimed much of the 2009 season from San Diego Padres prospect Steve Garrison. He came back to participate in the Arizona Fall League only to see get injured in a different way. He is closing in on his return to competitive action.

Talk a little bit about the AFL experience, before we get into the injury stuff.

Steve Garrison: Ok, deal. It was a great experience. It was always one of my goals. I've always wanted to play there. I've always respected the league and always respected the guys who went there. For them to pick me to go and to think highly enough of me to go was really an honor. I wanted it to be an honor, and I wanted to perform the way I knew I could perform. I wanted to act like I deserved to be there, so it was definitely an honor.

It seemed like you were really hitting your stride toward the end, getting better and better, after a long season of recovery for you. Then, at the end, last start, the luck of the Irish hits.

Steve Garrison: During the course of the league, I've started to feel really good. I've been able to get into a groove, to figure out pitch sequences. My arm is doing great. Being able to pitch again, it really felt good, to be able to compete pain-free. Just to get into that competitive nature again, just to be able to compete again. When the injury happened, it was hard. It was definitely hard for me. Now, I'm trying to look at it as a blessing in disguise. I really had to get my shoulder stronger, give it a really good rest. Now, my shoulder feels better than it ever has. I'm looking forward to coming back. The knee feels great. I'm really just excited.

What was the frustration level like at the time? We're talking about first, you almost miss a year, where you have the shoulder, then the knee hits, at a time when this is before you were put on the 40-man, like where am I going to be now? What am I going to do?

Steve Garrison: You try not to think about that kind of stuff, but of course, it crosses your mind from time to time. When they put me on the 40-man, I was really blessed. It really helped my morale. It was one of those things that gave me more motivation to really come back. They believed enough in me to really protect me, so I could bust my butt and get back in shape. I was going to bust it either way, but the fact that they wanted to protect me was really a blessing. I was really happy that they thought that highly of me.

Where are we today with the injury and the recovery process?

Steve Garrison: I'm running now, and it feels really good. We always talked with the trainers – Matt Neiberg on the Minor League side and Rick Stauffer on the big league side. They were great. They worked together really well. They gave me a really good plan. From the very beginning, they said, ‘we'd rather you feel really good and hold you back, than the other way around.' I'm really happy that I feel really good and they are trying to hold me back. As of right now, I starting to throw pens off the mound. Simultaneously, I'll start doing agilities and things like that. Soon, I'll start getting off the mound, doing PFPs, and hopefully get in the game fairly shortly. It feels great.

What was the Major League camp experience like for you? It was a little bit different, since you weren't able to participate, but you were still hanging around.

Steve Garrison: It was definitely hard not being able to participate and seeing all the guys. They were all great over there. They were very nice. They welcomed me. They weren't like, "oh, this rehab guy." I play a lot of first base. It was a great experience meeting all the guys. They are all a great bunch of guys. I learned a lot, just listening. Guys like David Eckstein, he knows so much about the game and it's unbelievable to hear some of the things he said. Little things, things you don't even think about.

Give me an example.

Steve Garrison: For example, we were going through pick-off plays one day, and he was just talking about it. He was saying, even just this split second where you turn your head. There are certain times you turn, certain times you don't, how you do it, and timing that you do it in. Little things like that you wouldn't think about, you just go through the motions. He's saying, if he's this close to the bag, the runner's thinking this, or if he's this close, he's thinking this other thing. It's amazing to think about the things you don't even realize. It's just the experience at the level they have. It's just unbelievable.

I saw Heath Bell come out here yesterday. He seems like an accessible kind of guy. I listened to him give advice to his starter the other day, and I was just blown away. It was great advice.

Steve Garrison: He approached me. Being the first-year guy, I was intimidated to go up to the Big League guys, especially the established guys. He came up to me and asked me how my knee was. He asked me personal things that I wouldn't think they would even realize. He gave me advice about taking it slow with the rehab and even about pitching, how to watch hitters and things like that. It's amazing the knowledge that's out there. There's so much more to learn to the game. It's definitely an honor to be there.

You mentioned being put on the 40-man being a confidence boost for you. How do you think you would have handled it if it didn't happen? I guess we can't look back in a sense.

Steve Garrison: Well, when the injury happened, I was preparing myself to not be protected. I was preparing myself either way, if I was injured or not injured, because I didn't know what was going to happen, since I was just coming off of the shoulder injury. After the knee injury, if they don't protect me, I'm still going to bust my butt and show them I'm good enough to come back. And to show them I play for nothing but myself to come back and work hard enough to get back to where I was, if not better than where I was. So, it was a hard time. It was a hard week or so. It was one of those things where I prepared myself either way. I was going to be happy either way. I'm definitely happier than hell that I was put on. I love this organization. They sat me down and told me the options, told me my progressions with the knee. I knew even if I wasn't protected, I would still get the attention with the rehab I needed, so I'd be back, either way.

What have you learned about yourself in the past year and half that maybe you took for granted before?

Steve Garrison: I really took my legs for granted. I've always considered myself athletic. I always wanted to be athletic. I'm always the guy that enjoys doing agility stuff, enjoys running, doing sprints. It's one of those things where I looked back and my legs had always been great. Now, all of a sudden, this happens. I did take advantage of it. I could have worked a little harder at it. I thought I was busting my butt, but obviously not hard enough, with my knee. It puts things into perspective. You're not invincible. You're a guy, just another guy, and things can happen to you. Just fielding a bunt, like PFP work, I take for granted. I was able to pick it up and throw it, because it's nothing. Now, you can be fielding a bunt and tear your ACL. It's one of those things that I took for granted, just thinking that you're athletic enough to do things, when really you need to work a little harder at it.

Where do you believe your pitches will be when you come back? You've always been a guy with fastball command, with the ability to throw four pitches. You've got shoulder, you've got knee, now it's time to pull it all back together again.

Steve Garrison: I hope I get back to where I was, if not better. The knee feels better. It honestly feels great. It's my right knee, my landing leg. My shoulder feels better than it ever has. To be where my shoulder is at right now is another big confidence booster. To know that I can just let it go and have the confidence of attacking hitters. I don't want to change the pitcher I am. It's who I am. I've learned that way. I know I'm not a power pitcher. I don't have overpowering stuff. I know I can get people out with what I have. Why would I change that? I hope to get back to where I was and just be healthy.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one pitch from anyone of your teammates to put into your own arsenal, what would it be, from who, and why?

Steve Garrison: I would go with Craig Italiano's two-seam fastball. It comes in at 95-96. It looks like a left-hand slider. It's kind of devastating. Probably that. Italiano's two-seamer. It's pretty good. Not too shabby.

Who is the one hitter that you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Steve Garrison: Can I say Kyle Blanks?

Minor League. Minor League.

Steve Garrison: I would say maybe Craig Cooper. I love his approach to the game. Especially with me being left handed. I love going down and away, and he's so good at going the other way with it, with power. I'd have to rethink my strategy towards him. He's disciplined so well to play and he knows what he wants to do. I'm really glad Craig Cooper is my teammate.

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