Gressick adjusting to his new role
Former Ohio U. player began spring training as a pitcher, finished as a right fielder.
By Greg Silverman
Saturday, June 28, 2008
DAYTON — Anthony Gressick feared the worst when he was called to Donnie Scott's office at the end of spring training.
"That's usually bad news," the Lancaster native said. "I thought I was going to get cut."
Instead, he was told he was done pitching, and was moving to right field.
He wasn't the only one surprised by the move.
"When I came out of the office, the trainer handed me my release forms," Gressick said. "I told him I didn't get cut. He kept apologizing. I said, 'Don't be sorry. Be happy.' "
Gressick's minor-league journey has seen him pinball through teams, leagues and even positions. And it will all have been worth it should he fulfill his dream of making the "Show."
"Playing isn't something I take for granted," he said. "I have fun and work as hard as I can to take advantage of my opportunities."
This season, opportunity hasn't knocked often. He starts only against left-handed pitchers. In 31 at-bats, he has hit .258 with two home runs, including a solo shot Wednesday, June 25.
Gressick, 24, has had a roller-coaster ride of a baseball career.
At Ohio University, he pitched and played first base and right field.
He underwent Tommy John surgery after his freshman year. That forced him into a designated hitter role for the next season. But he delivered, hitting .377 with 16 homers and was named third-team All-American.
In his final two seasons at OU, Gressick was a regular outfielder when not pitching.
He was drafted in the 26th round, and has spent time in extended spring training, with the Billings, Mont., rookie team, Sarasota (Fla.) high-A squad and the Dragons.
"When I get moved, I'm usually the last one to know," he said. "It can be difficult, but it's a part of what we do."
After injuring his shoulder in 2007 spring training, he bounced between Dayton and Sarasota.
"I had a really bad first half," he said. "I got behind in counts and walked a lot of guys. The second half was a lot better. I was happy with the way I pitched."
When he was called up to Sarasota last season, he was hit hard and threw limited innings. His Sarasota ERA skyrocketed above 12. His numbers with the Dragons were more solid: 5-8 record with a 4.40 ERA in 90 innings.
"We're all so close to that dream of making the big leagues," he said. "I have to take it day by day and work hard to improve."