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Greg Garcia: Handshakes from Hawaii to Memphis


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The life of a professional baseball player is tough. With the season beginning at the start of April and running through September, players are forced to make baseball a way of life instead of just a hobby. The hours of travel and time spent around teammates in a clubhouse seem never-ending when the season comes to a close. The ups and down of a full year of baseball can bring tension to even the calmest athlete.  But most players make sure not to let these things get in the way of having fun.

Fans hear of community visits, games, pranks and other ways that players enjoy their long season with one another.  Some ballplayers follow a pre-game routine or make sure to wear a certain undershirt out of superstition. But what Redbirds infielder Greg Garcia has done has shaped the way his team and others in the St. Louis organization interact before every game.

Garcia, a seventh-round selection in 2010 out of the University of Hawaii, has recruited a majority of his fellow Redbirds to participate in something every player looks forward to: pre-game handshakes. And these hand-slapping, wing-flapping, chest-bumping moves have taken over the Redbirds’ dugout.

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Originating in rookie-level Johnson City during the 2010 season, Garcia and then-teammate Travis Tartamella compiled a basic handshake that enlisted the whole team following a win. As the infielder progressed through the various levels of the Cardinals’ organization, so did the number of different routines. By 2012, when Garcia was stationed with the Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League, “everyone had a handshake with everyone.” It was something he made sure he carried over to Memphis during his first season with the Redbirds in 2013.

For the variety of handshakes that Garcia possesses, coming up with fresh material can be a challenge. It is something he relies on strange methods to produce.

“Usually the handshakes come to me in a dream so I see them before they happen,” Garcia jokingly said. “But honestly, guys will come up with ideas and run them by me. If I like the idea then we’ll go with it and if it works, it works.”

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The second baseman prefers no particular order to perform the eight to nine pre-game handshakes. For him, it is whoever comes down off the field into the dugout from stretching first.  Having no specific order helps keep Garcia on his toes, which he appreciates considering the depth and speed of each handshake.

“It’s like a dance routine honestly,” Garcia explained. “I just practice them enough that it becomes second nature to me. I see a guys face, just let my instincts go and the handshake comes out.”

Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. Garcia said that messing up a teammates’ individual handshake is “like stepping on a girls’ toes when dancing.” Forgetting a move can be embarrassing for both players involved, although the Redbirds’ leadoff hitter claims it to be rare.

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Making a mistake is always in the back of his mind though and when he was promoted to St. Louis in May to make his Major League debut, Garcia was cautious about his pre-game routine.

“I only did it with Grich (referring to Randal Grichuk who was promoted to St. Louis at the same time as Garcia) when we were both there together,” Garcia hesitantly admitted, “but we did it in the corner where no one could see us. It wasn’t like it is here. I wasn’t as comfortable doing it up there.”

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If fans get to the park early enough, they will witness a third base dugout full of players partaking in what has become series business. Garcia has enough handshakes with his Memphis teammates to fill a starting lineup. Of those recruited, Redbirds’ catcher Ed Easley confessed their handshake gets him ready for every game.

“I know when Greg comes to me for our handshake, it’s time to lock it in,” Easley stated.

When it comes down to it, Garcia’s easy-going attitude has translated something as simple as a handshake into a staple within the Redbirds’ clubhouse

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“It’s just something we do to keep the clubhouse light and fun before the game and it kind of bonds you a little bit with the other guys,” Garcia said.

Joe Kelly Returns


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Joe Kelly (top) poses with teammates Shelby Miller (middle) and Nick Greenwood (bottom) in a Memphis uniform in 2012.

St. Louis Cardinal right-hander Joe Kelly will make a rehab start this Friday at AutoZone Park against the Round Rock Express. Kelly has been out of action since landing on the disabled list back on April 17 with a left hamstring strain. He last appeared in a Redbirds uniform in 2012 when he posted a 2.86 ERA in 12 starts. Kelly is expected to throw 40-60 pitches in his rehab start.

One man’s 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game ballot: PCL edition


Originally posted on MiLB.com's PROSPECTive Blog:

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By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

We’re two weeks into Triple-A All-Star Game voting with a little more than two weeks left to vote to send your favorite Triple-A players to Durham on July 16.

With that in mind, here is who I’d vote for at each position based on the Pacific Coast League portion of the ballot. (Note: All players included below are currently playing in the PCL and have enough at-bats/innings to qualify for the major statistical categories. Those that are on the ballot but don’t meet these stipulations weren’t considered.)

Catcher: Adam Moore, El Paso Chihuahuas — No offense to Moore, but there were slim pickings here at catcher. Only three of the catchers on the PCL ballot have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting races. But don’t let that take away from what has been a fine season so far for the Chihuahua backstop. The 30-year-old…

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RBI Camps


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Several hundred boys and girls from the Memphis Redbirds’ RBI program (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) participated in a special camp this morning. Redbirds pitchers Dean Kiekhefer and Nick Greenwood, first baseman Xavier Scruggs, outfielder Tommy Pham and catcher Dante Rosenberg provided hands-on instruction to a group of 300 kids from RBI. Each of the players hosted stations for the camp attendees that featured pitching, hitting off a batting tee, baserunning, and fielding. At the
conclusion of camp, the five Redbirds players signed autographs.

 

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Reliever Nick Greenwood hits ground balls

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Tommy Pham has stolen eight bases this season. He shared his thoughts on baserunning.

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Feeling Lucky?


Hidden-Twitter

For those who have not been on Twitter lately, you have really missed out. A new Twitter account, @HiddenRedbirds, has been giving away free prizes and giveaways around Memphis. The account has been tweeting daily locations and clues to what prize is on the other end of the giveaway. The climax of the account takes place on Friday, June 13 when the Redbirds play host to the Tacoma Rainiers at AutoZone Park. Several tweets will be sent out during the game that give fans the opportunity to claim cool stuff around the park. If you have not gotten tickets, there is still time left to be apart of our social experiment! How lucky are you feeling this Friday the 13th?

Help K Cancer on May 30


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The Jason Motte Foundation is teaming up with the Memphis Redbirds for a special night at AutoZone Park. On Friday, May 30, fans can purchase ticket packages that will include admission into the ballpark and a K Cancer shirt like the one above. In addition, every fan who buys the ticket package will be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals game and the chance to meet Jason Motte before the game. Find more information about the event by clicking on the photo above or here. We hope you join us in the fight to K Cancer

Help K Cancer on May 30


KCancer-Easley-social-media

The Jason Motte Foundation is teaming up with the Memphis Redbirds for a special night at AutoZone Park. On Friday, May 30, fans can purchase ticket packages that will include admission into the ballpark and a K Cancer shirt like the one above. Find more information about the event by clicking on the photo above or here. We hope you join us in the fight to K Cancer!

Guest Post #2: Xavier Scruggs


Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) was drafted by St. Louis in 2008 out of UNLV and is in the midst of his seventh professional season. He grew up in California and attended Poway High School in San Diego. The infielder spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, where he is the all-time career home runs leader with 59.

“A few years ago I was blogging for Scout.com and had a great time doing it,” Scruggs said. “I wrote about winter ball and my season in Springfield. When the Redbirds Media team ap
proached me about blogging, I immediately thought about how awesome it would be to give fans an inside look on a player’s thoughts and everyday experiences.”

From May 23, 2014



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I’m starting to believe that the Pacific Coast League should be called the NSL, the “No Sleep League.” I’ve been trying to get adjusted to getting up around 4 a.m. to catch early morning flights to our away games. These flights are never straight; there is always a layover. It has been weird getting used to playing the same day as the flight. And I won’t lie, I hate flying! It really takes a lot out of me each time, mostly because I can’t sleep on planes.

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Scruggs tweeted on May 23: My boy @JermaineCurtis grindin for sleep in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport..#milbproblems #thestruggle

We seem to have had our fair share of early games this year as well. I know the 11 a.m. games are for the kids but man those games hurt. I’m starting to get adjusted . I can’t complain though because the opportunity to be here is amazing. I can’t emphasize how awesome it is being able to travel to all of these different cities and play baseball. Sometimes I just can’t believe this is my job. It’s been awesome visiting Colorado Springs, Oklahoma City, Nashville, and Round Rock to name a few.

Last week some of my teammates and I got the opportunity to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We had an amazing tour and afterwards we signed autographs for the kids. I was absolutely blown away to hear about so many amazing things that make that hospital run, from fundraising, to the housing provided for patients, to the top-of-the-line doctors and scientist, and the people that donate and charities. I can honestly say that was such an awesome experience and I can’t wait to go back.

Scruggs and teammates Greg Garcia (far left), Boone Whiting (right middle) and Dante Rosenberg (far right) during the visit to St. Jude.

One of the best parts of the trip was just seeing the children’s faces light up when we said hello to them or gave them a high five. It’s almost surreal to think that I can have such an impact on someone’s day, especially someone that is struggling and fighting a serious battle. In the end, they are the ones bringing joy to my teammates and I. I feel like they encouraged me to live my life to the fullest and not take anything for granted. We are not promised tomorrow and the little battles I fight in this game of baseball are nothing compared to what they go through each and every day. Sometimes it just takes something like that to put other things into perspective.

Photo Credit: St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

 

Help K Cancer on May 30


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The Jason Motte Foundation is teaming up with the Memphis Redbirds for a special night at AutoZone Park. On Friday, May 30, fans can purchase ticket packages that will include admission into the ballpark and a K Cancer shirt like the one above. Find more information about the event by clicking on the photo above or here. We hope you join us in the fight to K Cancer!

Happy Birthday Luis Mateo


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In the midst of his seventh professional season, Luis Mateo turns 24 today. The Redbirds’ infielder started celebrating early last night in Colorado Springs when he collected three hits and scored two runs. Happy birthday Luis!

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