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I'm Just Saying....With Ian Gardeck

Published: Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 5:00 p.m. CDT
Crystal Lake South graduate Ian Gardeck reports to spring training this week, but not until after being hired to appear in an upcoming episode of the TV drama "Chicago Fire". (Photo provided)

San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Ian Gardeck heads to spring training this week, looking to build off of last year's 4-3 season with the Augusta Greenjackets. The 2009 Crystal Lake South graduate posted a 3.21 earned-run average and picked up a save and struck out 66 hitters in 56 innings while being used in a number of roles. In the off-season, Gardeck played a role as a body double in an episode of the NBC drama "Chicago Fire", which will air on Feb. 25.

You go into spring training and it's always a fresh start. It's a new year. Obviously, they still remember what you did last year, but it's a fresh start. You've got to come in ready to go, your body has to be in shape and you're ready to go out of the chute right away. I think it's a great opportunity to showcase what you worked on in the off-season physically, mentally and pitching wise. I think you always have a sense of what you did last year and what your expectations are for the upcoming season. So you can't really worry about (what level you'll be at) because that's something you can't control. It's one of those things that if you get caught up trying to figure out (where you're going to land), you lose focus on that next pitch, that next outing. There's really not enough time in baseball to focus on something you can't control.

It doesn't matter whether you're coming in in the fourth inning, the fifth inning or the ninth inning – it really comes down to you executing and throwing strikes. It doesn't matter what you're doing – you want to put up a zero for your team. You want to get three outs and you want to get back in the dugout and give your hitters an opportunity. It doesn't matter what role (you're in), when you come in. You go out, compete, get outs and that's the name of the game.

You can still find pressure, even in a game that's a little bit out of reach. If you come in in the sixth (inning), you never know when your team is going to need you to hold a lead or if that one run that you give up ends up being the deciding factor in the game. So whether it's the sixth or the ninth, it's still very important that you throw up zeroes and get your team in there to hit. The pressure is what you make it. You still have a job to do whether it's the sixth and you're down 10 or it's the ninth and you're up one. You never know when the team's going to be able to come back and you never know what that run you give up is going to decide it.

I met a woman at the gym who talked to me about modeling and I kind of laughed it off because how often are you told that you should be a model? I had a good laugh with it and didn't really revisit it and then she sent me a link (to audition) for a hockey body double for Chicago Fire. Even then, it was still almost like a joke. I didn't have any professional headshots and so I ended up using a photo my younger brother took in the hallway of our house. It kind of started with a hope and a prayer and, sure enough, I ended up getting the job. You never know (where it can lead). I'm just going with the opportunity, I got to read with first-line actors and be part of it. So I'll take it step by step. It's kind of one of those things that fell into my lap and so I figure I might as well run with it.

I'm Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If there's someone you'd like to see featured, write to me at jarnold@shawmedia.com or send me a message on Twitter at @NWH_JeffArnold.

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