SOUTH BEND — David Garner took what could have been perceived as a negative and turned it into a positive.
The right-handed pitcher and Niles, Mich., native decided to put the naysayers aside and just move forward.
So when the former Michigan State University hurler was asked to stay longer in Arizona for extended spring training instead of breaking camp with one of the Chicago Cubs’ minor league affiliate clubs, he chose to see the bright side.
“Some could look at extended as a negative, but I saw it as an opportunity to get more individual work,” Garner said after making his South Bend Cubs debut Monday, April 20, at Four Winds Field. He worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief and gave up one hit while striking out one and earning a hold in South Bend’s 3-0 win against Great Lakes. He tossed 10 of his 15 pitches for strikes. “I had been working on my motion and being quicker with my arm on the backswing.”
Garner, 22, also just got back to what made him successful in the past.
“I stopped worrying about what people think and started to throw like I used to do in the backyard and in the street and just have fun with it,” Garner said. “You’ve just got to go out there and compete. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. If you just put your mind to it, you can do anything you want.”
South Bend manager Jimmy Gonzalez was impressed with Garner.
“He sure did look sharp,” Gonzalez said. “He just came in and threw strikes. He came out aggressive, used all his pitches and was effective.”
Garner, a former three-sport standout at Niles High School, was selected by Chicago in the seventh round of the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
After signing, he played rookie ball in Arizona in 2013 and then split the 2014 season at Boise (Short Season A) and Kane County (Low A). He was a combined 2-1 with a 3.82 earned run average in 22 games in 2014 (all in relief).