- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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New York Yankees
This had to be some kind of joke.
Earlier that day, Steve Garrison had been out on the golf course and just recently threw a bullpen session in prepation for his next start with the Brevard County Manatees (Class A+) in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
The words he just heard could not have been true.
“They called me into the office and they were like, 'We got some news, you just got traded,'” Garrison remembered. “I was like, ‘No, really, what’s going on?’. They said, ‘No, really, you just got traded to the Padres. We don’t know where you are going, but you’re not a Brewer anymore so hand in your things and get out of here,’ to summarize it.”
On July 25, 2007, Garrison, now a left-handed reliever for the Yankees, found himself as one of the minor league players involved in a trade deadline deal and can look back on his trade with a positive attitude. Garrison can also recall every asset in the deal that sent him and fellow minor leagues Will Inman and Joe Thatcher to the Padres in exchange for reliever Scott Linebrink.
“Looking back now, I’m grateful and knowing that the Padres wanted me instead of the Brewers not wanting me as that’s what I thought,” Garrison said. “I know it’s just business and that’s how trades work and there’s no hard feelings, it’s just business and both organizations were trying to get better.”
Before the trade, Garrison had no idea that his name had been discussed, but he later found out that a San Diego scout had been in the stands for his last few starts.
At first, Garrison, who made his Major League debut Monday with the Yankees, admitted he was upset that he had been traded away from Milwaukee. He had developed relationships with other players in Milwaukee’s organization and he didn’t understand why the Brewers didn’t want to keep him in their farm system.
When Garrison heard the news it was about 6 p.m., as he found out right before a game, and he had to leave on a flight for California at 6 a.m., giving him little time to pack up his stuff and get ready for the cross-country move.
The next day, Lorenzo Cain, now a minor league outfielder in Kansas City’s organization, drove Garrison to the airport and Garrison said he left his car in a garage and Florida. He would return after the season to pick up the car.
In San Diego, Garrison joined the Lake Elsinore Storm (Class A+) and was placed with a host family, which helped make his transition easy. He remembers the woman who hosted him and two others, Phyllis, and said the toughest part of his move was not having a car to drive around in. It helped having a Milwaukee teammate with him, though.
“I think I was very fortunate in my trade, also that I had one of my close friends, Will Inman, with me as part of the trade,” Garrison said. “We were really close friends, but us both going over together, we were able to help each other.”
While Garrison was being dealt for a high-profile set-up man in Linebrink, he said he did not keep tabs to see how the set-up man was doing with the Brewers. Eventually, he became more knowledgeable about Linebrink and it gave him new insight into his trade.
“After I learned more about him as a player, I was grateful for the way they even considered me to be at that kind of level,” Garrison said. “Hearing about how great a pitcher he was, it was definitely a great experience.”