Drafted three times in his career, relief pitcher Carmine Giardina waited until graduating college with a degree in sports management at the University of Tampa to sign with the Angels. Even though he is fulfilling his life-long dream of playing professional baseball, a Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2011 made him realize life is more than just sports. Giardina and friend Drew Beuerlein, a bullpen catcher with the Rockies, started Unashamed Athletes (unashamedathletes.com) as a way for athletes to share their testimonies.
Talk about Unashamed Athletes?
We just got our 501(c) status. We just want a place where athletes of all levels—high school, college and professional—can share their faith and stories. We started with the website as a way for us to stay in touch during the season. After starting a Twitter account, we had over 5,000 followers after our first tweet. We really never expected that.
What’s your story?
For me I was always a believer but not a true follower. During my rehab after Tommy John surgery, I realized there’s more to life than baseball. Everything happens for a reason, and my surgery allowed me to see different things other than baseball.
What happened with your elbow?
My first year in pro ball, I had some shoulder issues and went to Arizona to rehab. Then in my first game, my elbow blew out. Drew was my roommate during that time as was Cam Bedrosian.
Is everything O.K now?
Yes, everything is back to normal. What rehab does is strengthen you, and you learn how to throw correctly. It helped me become a better pitcher.
Any particular routines you go through before you pitch?
I wear my Unashamed Athletes bracelet all the time, but you can’t during the game. So, I warm-up with it on, then when I get ready to go to the mound, and I take it off and put it in my back pocket.
Have you always been a pitcher?
My freshmen year in high school was my first outing. I was hitting 85 mph and was left-handed. That’s when I knew I could pitch.
You’ve been struggling somewhat lately. Any idea what’s going on?
I haven’t thrown well the last three weeks, but I’m working on adding some new pitches. It’s just that transitional period.
Goals besides the Big Leagues?
To get better every day and get the left-handed hitters out. I just want to continue to get better and move up to Triple A.
What do you do in the off-season?
I train, work out, substitute teach and also give pitching lessons. This year, though, I’m getting married.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend about 15-20 hours on Unashamed Athletes. I usually go to the coffee shop every morning, work on the site and catch up on e-mails.
Anything else you want to share?
My younger brother, Sal, was just drafted by the A’s. He’s a catcher so I’m able to tell him the secrets.