June 26, 2012
WASHINGTON - It's still baseball and it's still fun. That's what former Georgetown University shortstop Mike Garza (San Antonio, Texas/Douglas MacArthur) keeps reminding himself every day as he begins his professional career.
Garza, one of two Georgetown players selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, signed with the Milwaukee Brewers soon after he was taken in the 20th round.
Garza has gotten off to a terrific start, playing for the Short Season Class A Helena Brewers in Montana. Through eight games, he is batting .333 (11-for-33) with three doubles, one home run, six RBI and a team-best 17 total bases. Garza has started in all eight games for the Brewers, who are 2-6 this season.
"I've been fortunate enough to be in the lineup every day," Garza said. "It's easier to get into a rhythm getting at-bats. I feel pretty good about where I am right now, but there are always things you can work on, things you can do to get better."
It helps having guidance and Garza and has gotten that from his hitting coach, former Major League and four-time All-Star Don Money, who played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Brewers and, coincidentally, was born in Washington, D.C. "He's a cool good, pretty laid back," Garza said. "Just like we're getting paid to play, they're getting paid to coach so they know they're stuff because they've done it. But he's very good at teaching you how to do it. They do it because they love the game, so there's definitely motivation for them too."
The biggest adjustment, besides moving to another part of the country, has been playing third base. While he was expecting the move from his normal position at shortstop, Garza said it has taken a bit to get used to the move.
"That's what the Brewers had hinted at with me when I worked out with them prior to the draft so it wasn't a huge surprise to me," Garza said. "I've played every game there so far and it's an adjustment. You have to approach it differently and in addition to being closer to the batter, you're also adjusting to playing a new position at the professional level, so there's a different approach.
Garza, who is living with two of his teammates at a host family in Helena, has enjoyed seeing part of the country he's never been before. "It gets into the 90s, but the weather is really nice," he said of the state capital of Montana. "It's been in the 70s but by game time it's 80 and just perfect. It's a small town so I didn't know what to expect (after growing up in San Antonio, Texas and living in Washington). Everyone is really nice, and it's a really friendly town."
Garza and his teammates haven't had much chance to do much of anything outside of baseball. He arrives at Kindrick Legion Field around 1 p.m. every day and the team goes through a mini-practice before starting game preparation. By the time the game gets done, he will leave the ballpark at about 11 p.m., completing his day at work.
"I can see the business aspect of baseball now, but I can see it both ways," Garza said. "It's still baseball, it's still fun. Once the game comes around, it's fun. There are some aspects that make it a business, like paying rent and cashing checks.
"And there's no running as punishment. If you break a team rule, you pay a fine. In that sense, it does feel like a business. From there, you're going out there and trying to get better and playing every day."
Garza led Georgetown to a 24-29 overall record and a 10-17 mark in the BIG EAST in 2012. Georgetown tied for eighth place in the league and missed out on an appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament by percentage points. The team's 24 overall wins and 10 league wins were the most for the program since 2006. A First Team All-BIG EAST selection, Garza finished the season batting .393, which led the Hoyas and ranked second in the BIG EAST. He led the team in hits (86), at-bats (219), doubles (21), home runs (8), runs batted in (44) and total bases (135). In addition, he was second in the BIG EAST in slugging percentage (.616) and ninth in the league in on-base percentage (.433).