Back in the days when the Trenton Thunder were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox — remember that? — Dan Giese was a 24-year-old right-handed reliever who was getting his first taste of Double-A in Waterfront Park.
Now, he’s currently wearing the pinstripes of Boston’s main rival, the New York Yankees, after having been traded by the Red Sox in the middle of that 2002 season to San Diego, then picked up by the Phillies in 2003, signing with the Giants for 2007 and heading to the Bronx before the start of this year.
To make a long story short, it’s been a long road to the big leagues since he donned the Thunder colors.
I was recently able to spend a few minutes with the friendly California native in the Yankees clubhouse, and here’s how the conversation went…
Mike Ashmore: You got your first taste of Double-A with the Thunder back in 2002. What do you remember about your experience pitching in Trenton?
Dan Giese: “It was great. I got to play for Ron Johnson, who was a great manager. I was only there a couple months, I got traded. But yeah, my time there was great. My biggest memory of Trenton was actually not playing for them, but my first year when I signed, the guys playing there had the greatest team in all of the minor leagues. I don’t think they won the whole thing, but they had like David Eckstein and all those guys. That’s actually the biggest thing I remember.”
Ashmore: I know you didn’t pitch in Waterfront Park for too long, and I know you returned there a handful of times when you pitched for Reading, but was it still a little weird to come back there and have to play against them during the exhibition game?
Giese: “Yeah, it was weird. I was able to see some fans that I’d become friends with there. But it was weird to come back especially since they’re with the Yankees now, and I was with the Red Sox then. It was a little different seeing that.”
Ashmore: You didn’t have a lot of big league time before this season…are you kind of surprised with the way things have gone for you this year? You went from being off the 40-man roster to getting an opportunity with the big league club in a relatively short amount of time…
Giese: “I put a lot of work in this off-season. At my age, you never know how many more years you’re going to get to play. So I busted my tail this off-season, and it’s good to see an opportunity come out of all the hard work.”
Ashmore: How much does it mean to you to get to pitch in Yankee Stadium in its final season?
Giese: “Oh man. That was the reason I signed over here, just for that opportunity to do it and be a part of that history. It’s something that’s carried on for a long time.”
Ashmore: Everybody’s talking about Joba Chamberlain getting the start, but it was you who picked up your first big league win last night. Tell me about that…
Giese: “Shoot. I’ve come close a few times, but to finally get it is nice. Get that goose egg off my record. It was great to get that first win.”
Ashmore: Before your call-up, you were in Scranton. I haven’t seen them since the exhibition game, so what can you tell me about what it’s been like up there for you for the past few months…
Giese: “That’s just a prospect filled team. It’s just a bunch of young guys that are close to being here. There’s guys like Brett Gardner…it’s just phenomenal, the talent over there. It’s the best Triple-A team I’ve ever played on, by far.”
Ashmore: You played for Scranton when they were the Red Barons and affiliated with the Phillies organization…how different is the experience playing in the same place under the Yankees farm system compared to what it was with Philadelphia?
Giese: “It’s way different. Just small things like the fans, they’re all rooting for us. When I was with the Red Barons, we’d be playing the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees team, and they’d be rooting for the Yankees. They tore the turf out, which made a huge difference in the stadium. It makes it a lot nicer. Ever since the Yankees have been there, it’s been great. You ask Jeremy Ruby, the General Manager, he’s on the same page. It’s just a lot better.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com