A little less than three years after celebrating the greatest moment of his minor league career, Jeff Marquez will return to the Waterfront Park mound on Saturday night, hoping to recapture some of that magic.
The now-27-year-old righty put himself on the map in the Yankees organization during his first season with the Thunder in 2007, putting together a 15-9 mark with a 3.65 ERA in 27 starts to help lead Trenton to its first Eastern League Championship.
The California native spent most of the following season in Triple-A with Scranton, but was sent back to Trenton at the end of the year and made three regular season starts and two more in the postseason to do the unthinkable and win consecutive championships with the Thunder.
Things since then, however, have been a bit of a roller coaster.
Marquez was considered to be a key part of a trade between the White Sox and Yankees that took place before the 2009 season, a deal that sent him to Chicago in exchange for Nick Swisher and current teammate Kanekoa Texeira. Marquez would make his big league debut with the White Sox last season, pitching in just one game, and returned to the organization this season with the hopes for more Major League action.
Those hopes did not materialize, and Marquez was designated for assignment on June 5. The Yankees subsequently claimed him, and he pitched in three games for the Bronx Bombers before going down with a right shoulder injury.
“Being in the big leagues is obviously a lot better than being injured,” said Marquez through a smile.
“I’ve been feeling good for about two months now, and I was down there in Tampa, trying to find a spot for me to get some innings. But it feels good to be here and be around the guys and be on a team. It’s definitely a lot better than being down there.”
Marquez’s 30-day clock as a rehabbing Major Leaguer began on July 25, when he made his first outing for the Yankees Gulf Coast League team. Once that time period is up, Marquez must either be added to the Major League roster or designated for assignment. But as of right now, he’s just happy to be back in Trenton and getting an opportunity to pitch in a place he’s familiar with.
“I was here in ’07 and a little bit in ’08 when we won the championship back-to-back, so I’ve got a lot of good memories here,” Marquez said.
“It’s good to see the old coaches still here, clubbies and a couple of the other guys who are still around. It’s good to be back here again.”
And of course, his old manager Tony Franklin is happy to have him back, speaking after he and Marquez embraced in his office after Marquez’s arrival.
“I appreciate that, ‘Skip, how are you doing?’ Guys don’t forget,” Franklin said.
“But I don’t think it’s as much me as it is the organization. When you come back to this organization, it’s something special. There’s a lot of good memories here with the Trenton Thunder and New York Yankees, and they’re very appreciative when they come back. They want to say hi and give you a hug and all that kind of stuff.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com