Ranked among the top prospects in the Cardinals’ system earlier this decade, Reid Gorecki’s career hit a wall in 2005 and he was ready to give it up before the Braves gave him a second chance. Now 29 years old, he made his major league debut with Atlanta last season, and got his first big league hit in New York against the Mets.
You grew up on Long Island, so did you grow up a Yankees fan?
Gorecki: No comment. (laughs) I was a Mets guy until right around Jeter stepped in, and Mariano, and they started crushing people. The Mets kind of fell off there for a while, so I was a fair weather fan. I was always on the fence, I always rooted for both teams, but now it’s a little different. There’s only one team here now.
It must be cool to play with these guys.
Gorecki: Oh, is it ever. Just being around them, you see how hard they work and the kind of work ethic that they put in and the mind frame that they have. It’s something special over here. These guys really know what they’re doing and they have a goal. I’m happy to be a part of that goal… Being a new guy, I really don’t want to go mix it in too early. I like to get to know guys by watching them and how they act and see what kind of things they do. I don’t want to go opening my mouth, being a young guy, too early.
What brought you over here? Did you see some opportunities in the outfield?
Gorecki: To be honest with you, I’ve always wanted to play for the Yankees. Even though I grew up a Mets fan, this is such tradition. There are so many things about the Yankees that bring players in. I had an opportunity. My agent called me and said, ‘The Yankees are interested,’ and I said, ‘Sign the papers.’ I want to be a part of that, that winning atmosphere like these guys are a part of every year.
You were pretty highly touted when you coming up with the Cardinals, then things fell off for you when you were getting close to the major leagues. Did you think the big leagues would never happen?
Gorecki: I broke my hamate bone, and I kept twisting my ankle every day. I thought I was on the outs, to be honest with you. I went home and I got a job after the Cardinals released me, an everyday job with a couple of friends who had started a business. I was ready to give it up, and the Braves called and really gave me a second chance, a second breath of fresh air. Since then it’s been one goal in mind, and it’s been unbelievable. My road back from the Cardinals releasing me has been a real special road.
What was the big league debut like?
Gorecki: Unbelievable. The guys in the clubhouse really welcomed me with open arms. I had known a lot of them from being up and down in spring training every day. They were giving me opportunities. They threw me in the outfield the first day, and my heart was racing. The first fly ball, I pretty much caught it behind my head. I might has well have caught it behind my back. I was pretty nervous out there. And then we went to New York the next day and I was in front of my home fans and family. It was unreal the atmosphere, playing in front of that many people was nothing like anything I had ever done before.
For people who have never seen you, what kind of player are you?
Gorecki: I’m a scrappy dirtball. I like to leave the field the dirtiest guy on the field. I’m going to dive for a ball. I’m going to throw a runner out. I’m going to steal a base. I’m going to occasionally hit with some power. I just love winning. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve been blessed with good surroundings and we’ve always been a part of a winning team.