Jason Grilli – Genuinely Nice Guy

Photo and Stats of Jason Grillli
courtesy of Just Memorabilia Inc.
March 20, 2000

Jason Grilli, who made his professional debut in AA for the San Francisco Giants in 1998, is highly confident that he can help the Florida Marlins, coming over in the Livan Hernandez trade last July. He would rather earn that job during this Spring Training camp than in a late September call-up. The 23-year-old right-hander is described by many of those who know him as one of those genuinely nice guys in the game today and is comfortable and at ease in a major league setting, the result of growing up around the Detroit Tigers clubhouse, where his father, a former Toronto Blue Jay, Steve Grilli, toiled in 1975-1977. Now, the younger Grilli is competing for the fifth spot in the Marlins rotation.

"I liken him to a thoroughbred," said his father, now a top scout in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, who has been able to observe his son at close range during this 2000 Spring Training. "I told him the starting gate is about to open and it's going to be a fun race to watch.....I told Jason, 'You can't worry about anyone else, you just have to go out there and pitch your game.'" Recently he was his own worst critic after pitching his allotted two innings and giving up just one hit - a home run to Montreal Expos catcher Brian Schneider, a breaking ball that stayed up in the strike zone. You needn't bother to remind him it was an improvement over his previous outing against the Baltimore Orioles, when he lasted just an inning and two-thirds giving up a three-run homer to Charles Johnson.

"I seem to be one pitch, one out away from doing the job that's expected of me," said the Seton Hall star whose locker area
at Space Coast Stadium in Melbourne, the Spring Training home of the Florida Marlins, is decorated with baseball cards of his father and others he admires. "When you only have a few innings to go out there and prove yourself sometimes one mistake can really frustrate you big time. I'd rather get it nailed down so I don't have to get a cup of coffee and have this ping-pong battle. I've always been hard on myself, and that's what's gotten me to this point."

For a guy fighting for one of the last spots on the opening day roster of the Florida Marlin, Jason Grilli sure smiles a tremendous amount.

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