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The Drill: Garcia displayed all his baseball tools at West

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WORTHINGTON -- Bittersweet. It’s a word that means both bitter and sweet to the taste. It’s a word that describes not just the taste of chocolate, but also a memory -- both pleasant and painful.

The 2018 spring baseball season was kind of like that for the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Bluejays. They struggled to play their scheduled games due to a winter that hung on for far too long. They were able to play only one doubleheader date on their own field, in Worthington, which deprived fans a chance to see what was a very good college team.

By season’s end, the taste was notably on the bitter side of sweet. The Bluejays, with strong pitching, outstanding speed and good bats, were poised in the divisional tournament to advance and compete in the regionals. But they didn’t advance. They hoped to get an at-large bid. That didn’t come, either. Head coach TD Hostikka, and his players, felt the season ended too fast.

Local fans deserved more opportunities to follow Minnesota West’s many excellent ballplayers on the field in Worthington this year, and one of those they could have enjoyed following was sophomore center fielder Jeremie Garcia.

Garcia hits for average, he has some power. He is fast, he’s always a threat to steal a base. He’s got a strong arm. He’s fun to watch.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Garcia said he began playing baseball at the age of 3 under the watchful eyes of his mother. When he was little, he used to pick up sticks and when his mom through him rocks, he’d try to hit them.

“I would say my mom was my first coach,” Garcia said recently.

Given his background, Garcia expressed some irony at finding himself at Minnesota West in Worthington. He’s glad he came.

The Globe interviewed the speedy outfielder for The Drill during the spring baseball campaign. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: How did it happen that you wound up at Worthington and Minnesota West?

ANSWER: “In high school ball, as we were moving on towards the playoffs, I saw this Coach TD. And he came to me, and he was talking to me about Minnesota West. He was telling me how good of a town it is, and how good of a college experience it would be, and being able to play two years.”

Q: “This spring season, you’ve hit very well, you’ve stolen a lot of bases, scored a lot of runs and drove in a lot of runs, too. In fact, you rank in the top five in the conference in all four of those categories. So what are you first and foremost -- a hitter, a speedster, or maybe a defensive player?

A: “Basically, I see myself as a five-tool player. I thank God for the talent that He gave me, and being able to play everything on the field. I can steal bases, I have a really great arm, I have really great speed. And thanks to my IQ, I’m able to be focused and play the game.”

Q: How good is this team?

A: “Minnesota West is a pretty good, tough team. We can trust a lot of our guys, to be honest, we have guys coming off the bench in clutch moments and they get the job done. We look forward to going far this season and we won’t quit.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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