I must admit, I am really becoming a big Jason Grilli fan. The son of the former Tiger received a September call up from AAA Toledo and since joining the club has established himself as one of the truly good guys in the game. In a season of disappointment for the Tigers, Jason and his father Steve (Tigers, 1975-77) gave us a great story on September 24th. Jason made his first start as a Tiger that night with his dad in the stands looking on. Jason didn’t disappoint. He gave the Tigers seven innings of one run ball for the win. That night on the telecast we showed just how tough it is to watch your son on the field. Steve showed the emotional ups and downs of watching a child perform, squirming in his seat in tight situations and high fiving the people around him when Jason would record a strikeout or induce a big double play.
"I watched a tape of the game with my dad the next night, Jason said. It was really emotional for both of us. My dad told me how surreal it was to sit in the stands and watch his son pitch in the big leagues in the same city he did, thirty years later." That, I am quite sure, is a tape that father and son will watch often in the future.
Steve pitched for the Tigers briefly in the mid seventies and had a 4-3 lifetime record. "I had some time in the big leagues, he said. I fell just 296 wins short of 300." While dad’s career only lasted 70 games, Jason was on the fast track. A first round pick of the Giants out of Seton Hall in 1997, Jason was picked fourth overall behind Troy Glaus and ahead of names like Vernon Wells, Tim Hudson and Lance Berkman. Unfortunately arm injuries slowed his career early as a professional. Now, eight years after being selected in the first round, Jason finds himself in Detroit. Is he a part of the Tigers 2006 plans? Hard to tell, but his September performance can only help.
These are the days when you can tell a lot about a rookie’s personality. On the flight to Minneapolis for the Tigers final road trip of the year, Grilli and the rest of the rookies were hazed. All were made to wear clothing that would make even Cher blush. There was Jason Grilli on the team flight wearing a very short skirt and revealing halter top. Much more information than we needed.
He was also wearing a huge grin, just happy to be back in the big leagues.