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Veteran reliever and Sheffield client Jason Grilli
CB: The first client signed to Sheffield Management Group was veteran relief pitcher Jason Grilli. What drew you to Jason?
GS: Well Jason is a guy that I befriended when I was with the Tigers. One thing that stood out to me with Jason is that they used to put him in the game under the most difficult situations I've seen and they used to constantly do it. He got judged on it.
When you get put into the lineup with bases loaded and one out or no outs on an everyday basis, you're going to fail sometimes. I'm not saying you're going to fail every time, but the times that he failed, people always made it look like it was his runs that were on base. It was really someone else's runner that was put on base that he had to help bail them out. They would give up the runs or whatever and he would come in the next day with a smile on his face like it never happened.
He would come to my locker, and here was this guy that was trying to understand and learn about the game and pick my brain. Once I started talking to him, he liked what I was saying: taking care of your business and taking care of your family.
When I got out of the game I received a call from him. He told me, "I'm out of the game now, I blew out my knee and I need to get back in the game."
I told him I need to look at him and see him throw. I went and saw him and told him, "OK, I'm down with you." I had eight teams come to look at him and got him a shot.
CB: You managed to get him a $1.1 million contract with the Pirates, his richest contract to date. Do you think that, as a former player, you understand the value a player has to a team more than an agent who never played the game?
GS: Yeah, I mean, like I told Jason when he signed with me, a lot of people are going to say 'why him' and all of the other questions that go along with it. People don't understand what I've done behind the scenes with my own contract—the language I chose to put in my own contracts. Nobody had to tell me this; I chose to put it in there and it's benefited me today.
There's a lot of things that I've gotten knowledge from, spanning over 25 years in the game, and I got all that knowledge and I've applied all that knowledge. I fight this all myself. When it worked out for me, I feel it can work out for the next person.
One thing that I told him is that GMs (general managers), they can't string me along like they would do an agent because an agent is just going to base it on, and I do as well, I go to the dollar base and get numbers, compare his numbers to the next person; based on age, years; I do all of that myself.
The bottom line is, I've played with guys, I've played the game, I've seen pitchers throw. I know who's a better pitcher and I know who's a better hitter, a better fielder, etc. because my eyes tell me what I see. So when I'm talking to a GM, I'm talking from that perspective.
When I go to a GM and tell him that Jason Grilli still has a lot left in his arm and he's fully recovered from his injury, they won't have to worry about the injury or the risk factor; it proves that I was right.
Like I told Jason, I'm not going to go putting my name on the line, especially on somebody else, betting on somebody else, if I don't believe it. That gives him that advantage because that tells a general manager that I'm not going to vouch for something that I don't believe.