Dan Meyer, a 29-year-old left-hander claimed off waivers prior to Spring Training, has emerged as an integral part of a Marlins bullpen that has helped keep the club in playoff contention despite an injury to closer Matt Lindstrom. The New Jersey-born Meyer, who has posted a 3.24 ERA in 60 appearances, recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: You were originally selected 34th overall in the Draft, you were then a big part of a trade involving Tim Hudson, and this past offseason you got released by Oakland. How would you describe your journey?
Meyer: It's been quite a trip. I've battled through adversity, and I've battled through injuries, including a crazy injury that had never been seen before in baseball. I had to undergo a surgery that had never been performed in baseball before. There have been a lot of peeks and valleys.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What were the specifics of that unique injury?
Meyer: They found that a piece of my shoulder, the glenoid fossa bone, had broken off. One-third of it had broken off and was floating around in my shoulder. When I would take an MRI or an X-Ray, the doctors couldn't find it because it was always moving. They aren't sure how it happened. They said I would have had to have been hit by a car. That didn't happen, and I don't know how it happened.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How has that adversity helped you?
Meyer: It's made me stronger. It's been such a journey, and, now that I'm here, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I'm happy with this team and with my career. It makes this feeling that much sweeter. I've questioned myself a lot the last four years and now I'm helping my team battle for a playoff spot.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When you were released over the winter, was that the low point of your career?
Meyer: Absolutely. Being put on waivers is like getting fired in the real world. It shocked me, and it was a surreal feeling. I was no longer that young prospect with a bright future. Instead, it was put-up-or-shut-up time. It kicked me back to reality, but the Marlins have given me that opportunity, and I'm ecstatic they did.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Can you talk about the breakout season you're enjoying?
Meyer: Right now, I've settled into a pretty good role coming out of the bullpen. For me, the success has come from settling in with this team and settling into this clubhouse. I was welcomed with open arms, and I'm comfortable here. It started me off on the right foot with this organization, and I'm happy to be throwing the ball well. I'm happy to help us win ballgames.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have played now for three teams. What opportunity has Florida given you this year?
Meyer: The Marlins picked me up before Spring Training. They told me that nothing was guaranteed and that I had to do my job. I've taken it one day at a time and coming here has really revitalized my career.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Since coming here, have you added any new pitches?
Meyer: Our pitching coach Mark Wiley has taught me a cutter. That started at camp, and now it's become my go-to pitch. I've built off of that, and our manager has used me well out of the bullpen. I can't complain at all.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How has your role evolved since Opening Day?
Meyer:In the beginning, I was throwing in the middle innings and pitching in long relief. With some injuries to some other guys, I've been moved into some late-inning roles, and I've closed some games out. I've faced lefties and righties. Bottom line, I just want the ball. It's that competitive nature.
MLBPLAYERS.com: This is the fourth season you've seen big league action, but you hadn't won a game until this year. Was getting that first win under your belt a big relief?
Meyer: It was like getting a monkey off your back. You don't feel like you made it until you get that win, and for me I was at about a full year's worth of service time. I was put into some close ballgames this year and finally one night, after I had a clean inning in Toronto, the offense came back and supported me with seven or eight runs. That was real nice.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Though you broke in as a starter, what was it like to earn your first career save?
Meyer: I think being a starting pitcher for the bulk of my career has really helped with the transition. It helped strengthen my shoulder, but mentally the adjustment has been tough. I'm learning as I go, and to close some games out was a lot of fun. The ninth inning is a different feel. Coaches like Mark and Steve Foster have been huge helps.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.