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Call To The Bullpen

Pitcher Matt Daley

makes relief debut with

New York Yankees

Late afternoon on Friday, Sept 6, local Facebook, Twitter and email accounts, as well as old-fashioned phone lines, were abuzz as word spread that Garden City’s Matt Daley was promoted to the New York Yankees. Daley has been with the Yankees all season, albeit in their minor league system, after a 2012 year rehabbing from shoulder surgery with the Yanks.  

Although a boyhood Met fan, it was a dream come true for Daley to get the call to the major leagues with the iconic Yankees, a team that his father and many of his family members have been huge fans of for many years. Being part of an organization like the Yankees has proven to the ex-Trojan and his family that he made the right decision back in 2011, when he left the Rockies organization to sign on with New York. He had appeared in 92 games for the Rockies over the course of three major league seasons, with his lone win coming in 2009.

The Yankees have gone most of the season with their bullpen intact but began experiencing issues as the calendar moved into September. First it was David Robertson, then it was Shawn Kelly and Boone Logan going down with arm ailments and the Yankees had to turn to their farm system for help. Daley wasn’t included in the first group of September call-ups and had gone home to his apartment in Hoboken after his Scranton RailRiders season ended. But after five days of relaxing, the seasoned reliever got the call that everyone who plays in the minors wants to receive– “We need you to report to Yankee Stadium - TONIGHT.”

Not having any time to let the situation get to his nerves, other than fighting typical Friday night traffic on the George Washington Bridge and figuring out how to get into Yankee Stadium, a pumped-up Daley arrived about 6:15 for a 7:05 p.m. game time.

In the third inning, the Yankee faithful, as well as the TV booth, got their first look at Daley in his #40 uniform, as he threw in the pen to loosen his arm after having not thrown the previous four days.

With the Yanks comfortably ahead 8-3, Daley looked like he would have some time to get acclimated to the Yankee pen, but then Boston started to pound away at the tired New York arms. Nine runs later, the Yankee pen had failed miserably against Boston in the heat of a pennant chase.

But what those runs added up to was a call to the bullpen for Daley to start the ninth. And what a ninth it was. On a night when each pitcher to take the mound saw their ERA jump up, Matt ended the game on a positive note – striking out two and getting out of the inning without yielding a run. The last batter he faced was the dangerous David Ortiz and Matt got him to hit a sharp grounder to first for the third out. It was a nice debut in a Yankee uniform for Daley.  

A week later, on Friday the 13th, Daley was called on to face almost the same Red Sox lineup, as the Yankees were up in Boston for a key September series. Coming into the game in the eighth inning to the sounds of “Sweet Caroline” playing on the Fenway Park sound system, Daley got Dustin Pedroia to ground out, struck out Shane Victorino, gave up a double to Ortiz and induced Johnny Gomes into flying out. The Garden City native’s ERA remained at 0.00.

Manager Joe Girardi went back to Daley on Saturday to once again pitch in the eighth inning against the Sox, with the Fenway crowd serenading him with their standard sing-along to “Sweet Caroline,” as he stepped on the mound. This outing was a 1-2-3 inning for the Garden City High School alum as he had two strikeouts and a comebacker by Pedroia. Fans witnessed three appearances, three scoreless innings, five strikeouts and maybe the confidence of Girardi to pitch him down the stretch, in an attempt to help the Yankees not only battle through some tired arms in the pen, but help propel them into the playoffs.

If nothing else, Matt Daley will have had the chance to step on the field with two of the greatest Yankees and MLB players of all time. Pretty cool for a kid from Garden City who dreamed of playing for the New York Mets.