Global Baseball Games: Aritz Garcia, the youngest coach on Team Europe's staff

Global Baseball Games: Aritz Garcia, the youngest coach on Team Europe's staff
Born in 1989 in Pamplona, Spain, he attended the MLB European Academy, played in the United States and Japan and has been on the Spanish National Team staff since 2021. He will serve as the bullpen coach. "I'm available to do everything that needs to be done."

Aritz Garcia was born in 1989 in Pamplona, Spain. He developed as a player in the United States collegiate baseball. He played for Frank Phillips Community College in Texas, Colby Community College in Kansas and the University of San Francisco.

When he attended the Major League Baseball (MLB) European Academy in Tirrenia, Italy (2006, 2007), Team Europe's manager Marco Mazzieri was one of the instructors. Alessandro Maestri, Team Europe's pitching coach, had just signed a professional contract out of the Italian Academy, and Team Europe's slugger Alex Liddi was one of the players to watch.

After helping Spain win the U-21 European Championship 2008, Garcia played professionally in the independent Frontier League and Pacific Association in the US and the independent Shikoku Island League in Japan.

While pursuing a Master's Degree in Sports Management at the University of San Francisco, he served as a baseball coach. He has been on the Spanish National Team staff since 2021.

Garcia will serve as Team Europe's bullpen coach during the Global Baseball Games, the CARNEXT SAMURAI JAPAN SERIES 2024, on 6 and 7 March in Osaka, Japan.

"Being part of the staff is a privilege," Garcia told the WBSC via Zoom. "This wouldn't have been possible without my Spanish National Team staff colleagues and the players."

Garcia served under manager Nelson Prada on the staff that led Spain to the 2023 European Championship, their first continental title since 1955.

"I think we've been working hard from top to bottom. A lot more can be done to keep Spain on the map. Still, it was huge for us, especially those who have worked for the National Team for decades. Losing our spot in the World Baseball Classic was disappointing, but we finally could put all the pieces together, play up to our potential and win."

Spain is also the reigning U-18 European Champion.

"We have great players in that age group. We need to keep developing these players."

Something is changing in Europe. We are not talking only about the Netherlands and Italy anymore.

"I think a lot changed since I was a young player attending the MLB Academy in Tirrenia. I believe young people here are the same as in the US or Latin America. We need to give them chances to develop. We need to get them on the field four to six times a week to develop them to their full potential. I believe that one of the reasons Team Europe will have a chance to play Japan is the way European teams performed in the World Baseball Classic. The ultimate dream would be to see baseball become a professional sport in Europe. To achieve it, we need to keep developing.

Back to the Global Baseball Games.

"I also want to thank Marco Mazzieri for his confidence," he added. "His decision to include me on the staff means a lot to me, everyone around me, and the baseball community in Spain.

Garcia will be the kid on the coaching staff.

"It's great. I also feel privileged to be around people with more experience than I have. I think this will help me grow as a coach and mentor. It is really motivating."

As mentioned earlier, he will be Mazzieri's bullpen coach.

"I told Marco that I'm available to do everything that needs to be done. I will be happy to do whatever I can to help. I served as a bullpen coach for the Spanish National Team, and I'm happy to serve in the same spot for Team Europe. When Marco asked me to throw batting practice and hit fungoes, I told him that I'm all for it, I'm all for the team."

Garcia played in Japan, so he understands there's no exhibition game when facing Samurai Japan.

"In 2015, while playing for the Ehime Mandarin Pirates, I got in touch with the Japanese baseball culture and learned about their competitive nature. I expect high-level, competitive games. I also believe that what Marco has done putting the team together already puts us in a good position. We will be competitive. We're going to Japan to win both games."

After the Global Baseball Games, a new baseball adventure will begin for Garcia.

"I just signed for the Milwaukee Brewers. My commitment as a development coach in their Dominican Academy was supposed to start on March 1st. Still, they were kind enough to let me fulfil my commitment with Team Europe before reporting."