In one of the first moves of the offseason, the San Diego Padres claimed Greg Garcia off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals.
The veteran infielder is certainly an unheralded player in the game. During his five-year career, Garcia has not played regularly, though he has participated in 247 games in the last two seasons for St. Louis at the major league level. He always manages to find his way in a game. Greg Garcia is the grandson of Dave Garcia, who managed both the Indians and Angels during his long baseball career. The eldest Garcia was a baseball lifer who was well-known in the game of baseball.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to his grandson. Greg Garcia understands the game and cherishes every moment in it. That is why he seems to find his way into a game, even if he doesn’t make the starting lineup. He is a welcomed addition to the Padres clubhouse and he represents exactly what upper management is trying to create with this young team.
Garcia is also a native of San Diego, having attended Valhalla High School in El Cajon. The infielder has seen the good days of this franchise first hand, and he has also seen the bad days. When asked if he was happy about returning to San Diego, “Oh yeah, definitely,” he said, smiling.
In talking about his childhood and what he remembered about the team growing up, “I remember those playoff seasons with Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, Tony Gwynn, and how much excitement there was in the city. It was something that I enjoyed and I remember going to Qualcomm and to the games.” Garcia said.
Qualcomm Stadium was rocking during those playoff appearances, and the two of us reminisced about those glory days. “It was awesome. I want San Diego to feel that again.” Garcia said with a serious look on his face. To be able to represent a team that could possibly achieve this goal is something he takes to heart.
The 1998 team is fresh in the minds of most Padres fans. You see many of those players in and around town. As San Diegans, we get used to seeing them. Greg has been away from the city, for the most part, for a while. So seeing these players of the past caught his attention. “I’ve been starstruck. I saw Andy Ashby, Steve Finley, Trevor Hoffman. It’s kind of weird. They are all really great guys and it has been an honor to talk to them,” Garcia said, smiling.
In speaking about 1998, the conversation turned towards Mr. Padre. “I was a Tony Gwynn guy for sure. He did everything right on and off the field. The thing that drew me most to him, was his consistency. I know how hard that is now. As a kid, I didn’t appreciate it as much. That really did stick out to me,” Garcia said. Professing love for Gwynn will only endear Garcia to the fans. He knows how much Tony Gwynn meant to this franchise, and you get a sense of pride from him about getting this opportunity to wear PADRES on his chest.
In speaking about the present team. “We got a great group of guys here and a great organization,” Garcia said. “I’ve never seen so many young talented players in a big league camp. Coming over from the Cardinals, it was more about a veteran presence. I was one of the younger guys on the Cardinals, now I feel like one of the older guys,” Garcia said with a smirk. He knows that at 29, he is a veteran presence for the younger players in the organization. He embraces that fact and being a native of the city only gives him more desire to succeed in his mission.
“You look around this room and there is so much talent at such a young age. They are all eager, confident and hungry. Those three things can make you great. It’s something that cannot be taught. It’s something that is instilled in them. That is a credit to the scouting department and what they have done,” Garcia said. The Padres have certainly done well to draft players that have that “it” factor. Players who are hungry and want to get better. They have done really well with their selections of young talent.
“These are some kids here that are confident in their game and when you do that you will do well,” Garica intelligently stated.
The Padres have slowly added character guys in the clubhouse. Guys that know how to win and demand results from their teammates. “You bring guys over that have won. Eric Hosmer. Ian Kinsler. Manny Machado, who is a born leader, and someone like myself that was taught the right way to play. It was a positive atmosphere (Cardinals organization). Yes, we competed against each other, but we always pulled for one another. There was a common goal and you checked your ego at the door,” Garcia said. The Padres are slowly adapting that Padres Way, though it is taking some time to develop.
The Padres are taking steps in the right direction, and Garica is witnessing that for sure. “I see a lot of that here already (developing a winning tradition). Baseball is a tough game. There is a lot of failures. You have to keep that positive feeling,” Garcia said. The veteran infielder is a positive influence on this team and he is also a very valuable role player for the team. Expect to see a lot of Greg Garcia in 2019 at several different positions.