Thursday, June 14, 2012
Royalty meets up with Jason Grilli again in Pittsburgh at PNC Park!
Last year, I found out my friend Jean Ann Harrison, was conversing with Jason Grilli through Twitter. As a result, they wound up becoming business partners. Jean Ann was able to set up an opportunity for me to meet Jason in Lehigh Valley.
As for Jason, he was trying to overcome a setback that forced him to miss the entire 2010 baseball season. Jason being a perseverer never gave up on his dream to get back to the Major Leagues.
He was originally drafted in the first round back in 1997 out of Seton Hall University by the San Francisco Giants. Since then he has bounced around the Major Leagues playing with a number of different teams. Despite this latest injury he was determined to get back to the Show.
He wound up signing a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies before spring training started in 2011. He got sent to Lehigh Valley which was the Phillies' Triple A affiliate. While there he impressed the right people and due to a clause in his contract, he was set free and he was able to sign a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates last July 21st. By doing so, he got to be reunited with his former manager, Clint Hurdle who managed him with the Colorado Rockies back in 2008. Jason finished the 2011 season with the Pirates and he pitched well. As a result, they gave him a contract for 2012.
So far this season Jason has been used out of the bullpen primarily in the eighth inning to set up their closer Joel Hanrahan. He's done a fabulous job and he may even earn a spot on the National League All-Star team. If Jason makes the All-Star team it will be a honor and privilege for him. With all the hard work he's put into his comeback, it would be a dream come true for him. Regardless he's an inspiration for those not to give up on your dream in life.
Since I was going to see the Pirates play I wanted to make sure I got to see Jason myself before the game. Saturday night there was no batting practice so I didn't get the opportunity to do so. Sunday before the game I decided to go by the bullpen area since I got in after batting practice was over. I got the attention of the Pirates' bullpen coach Euclides Rojas and he told me Jason will be out there just before the game starts. With that being said, I decided I'm going to wait so I can see him. Needless to say, I got my way.
The most amazing thing was when I came into the ballpark Saturday night I grabbed a bunch of programs that they give out when you come in. I didn't even look at the cover right away. Ironically when I finally decided to look it at I couldn't believe what I saw. Jason Grilli was on the cover and they had a great article about him inside. When I saw him on the cover, I really got excited. The Pirates recognized his hard work and dedication to the organization by putting him on the cover. What perfect timing since we were there that weekend.
When I got to meet him Sunday afternoon by the bullpen, he was kind enough to sign three of them for me as well as my scorecard. I told him Jean Ann said hello. He told me she's a great lady. I told him she certainly is. He's such a nice guy like Jean Ann told me he was.
To top off the day, since Joel Hanrahan pitched in three straight games he needed a day off so Jason was given the opportunity to close the game on Sunday. He yielded a soft single and a walk since he didn't get any help from home plate umpire Derryl Cousins after a sacrifice bunt. He proceeded to bear down and he overcame the apparent bad call and/or lack of strike zone to strikeout the next two batters one swinging and the other looking to end the game and he preserved the victory for starter A.J. Burnett who pitched well. Jason was all fired up on the mound as he notched his first save as a Pittsburgh Pirate and we were there to see it on the day the King saw his 7,000th baseball game. You couldn't write a more perfect script as Jason delivered the "Perfect Pitch" that enabled him to strike out the competition. Great job as always by Jason on and off the field. Hope he can continue to pitch well and earn a spot on the All-Star team.
Thank you for reading and following along.