You’ve all heard of the Madden Curse, where the athlete on the cover of the Madden NFL video game goes on to have an awful and perhaps injury-riddled season. Well, perhaps there’s a Thunder Thoughts curse.
So far this season, I’ve interviewed Lance Pendleton, Hector Noesi, Kevin Whelan and Jeff Marquez in the big leagues. Pendleton got sent down, Noesi just had an awful outing and now Whelan and Marquez are both on the DL with various injuries.
But, in all seriousness, it was nice to catch up with Marquez, who was a key part of the Thunder’s 2007 Eastern League title run and came back late in 2008 to help them win back-to-back championships. But he was traded away to the White Sox organization the following season in the Nick Swisher trade and made his big league debut with Chicago last season.
Eventually DFA’d by the White Sox earlier this season, he was claimed by the Yankees and went straight to the big leagues to finally get a chance to pitch in pinstripes. Jeff was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time during my most recent “call-up” to the show, and I wanted to share our conversation with you…
Mike Ashmore: At the end of every season, the Yankees send some of their best prospects to the Bronx for a few days as part of a prospect development initiative, and I know you got to experience that a few years ago. What do you remember about getting to spend some time in the clubhouse at the old Yankee Stadium?
Jeff Marquez: “I came up here for four days just to get acclimated, that was the old Yankee Stadium. I hadn’t had a chance to see new Yankee Stadium. It’s quite impressive.”
Ashmore: Back then, were you kind of thinking that this…maybe not stadium, but this area is where you were going to be a few years down the road?
Marquez: “I couldn’t control that, but it was definitely going to be a good feeling if that was the case. I would have liked to, but stuff happens. You get traded. But none of that matters now, I’m back here.”
Ashmore: So you get traded over to the White Sox before the 2009 season…how did you find out?
Marquez: “This was in the Arizona Fall League, it was Phil (Hughes) and I in Arizona. Cashman just called me really early in the afternoon and said unfortunately, we’re making a move. It ended up being with the White Sox.
Ashmore: What was the experience of kind of being in limbo once you got designated by Chicago like?
Marquez: “Well, I was on the waiver wire at home, trying to figure out what was next. Whether it was going to be back to Charlotte or possibly back to Chicago due to the Peavy injury. I didn’t know where I was going to be. Sure enough, again Cashman called and said we just picked you up.”
Ashmore: Did it ever run through your mind that this would be the team that would pick you up?
Marquez: “You know what, my mom had thought there was a chance the Yankees could pick me back up. You look at the staff and what’s going on and what teams need, and it kind of did a little bit. It still was a shock, having the process go through. But I had a little bit of a gut feeling. I’m glad it was the Yankees and I’m back here. You can say I’m back home, where I first got drafted.”
Ashmore: What’s the experience been like so far here?
Marquez: “So far, it’s been good. All the guys here are awesome, I know quite a few of them. The facility obviously is the best. I’m glad to be here, it’s been good. Hopefully my stay will extend and I can be here for the rest of the season, that’s the goal.”
Ashmore: To finally get on the mound in pinstripes, what did that mean to you?
Marquez: “Yeah, that was pretty crazy. That was pretty surreal. It was great to finally look back and say you did is pretty cool.”
Ashmore: Take me through your memories of being in Trenton. You were there in 2007 and a little bit in 2008…what do you remember about your experience there?
Marquez: “’07 and ’08, that was a long time ago man. (Laughs) I met a lot of guys that aren’t necessarily here now, but they’re all doing their own thing. It was a good group of guys there, and a couple of them are here. A couple of them, I still keep in contact with. Now I’m back, I get to talk to the ones that are still up here with the Yankees.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com