Dustin Geiger’s 2015 baseball season started in Peoria, Ariz., and ended in a blur.
In between, Geiger played for four teams, lived in three time zones, was traded twice and watched two of his former teams play against each other in the American Association playoffs.
“We lived in six states last year, me and my wife (Laura),” Geiger said. “She was with me every step of the way, so I think it was a little bit harder on her, having to pack the car up and drive to the next place, wherever we were headed.
“It was eventful, for sure.”
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One of Geiger’s stops was with the Wingnuts, who re-acquired the 24-year-old first baseman this offseason for what he hopes to be a permanent stay. The Wingnuts begin their season May 19 against Lincoln at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Geiger played in the Chicago Cubs’ minor-league system for five-plus seasons with relatively no upheaval – five seasons that didn’t prepare him for the whirlwind that began once the Cubs released him from Double-A last May.
The Wingnuts quickly signed Geiger, adding him to the roster before the start of the season. He and Laura were already on their fourth home – they live in Florida, moved to Arizona for spring training and were in Tennessee before the Cubs released him.
Geiger quickly found his footing, batting .351 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs through June 26.
“We were playing well as a team,” Geiger said. “It was just kind of a bad situation … about our pitching staff. We ran out of guys and they kind of had to make a play for Omar Bencomo to get him back on board. There were no hard feelings felt about that at all.”
Bencomo, a right-handed starting pitcher, had been traded by the Wingnuts to Laredo on June 4. Weeks later thanks to injuries and departures, Wichita needed Bencomo back. Since Geiger was similar to the player originally acquired by the Wingnuts for Bencomo, Matt Padgett, Geiger became expendable.
Padgett was eventually released and Bencomo was sold to the Minnesota Twins less than two months later. Geiger’s story had barely begun.
“That’s how it happens – it didn’t work out the way (the Wingnuts) wanted it to work,” Geiger said. “Hindsight is 20/20 so you could have just looked back and said, ‘Well, we could have just (kept Bencomo and me) and been fine. You just get caught in the crossfire a little bit, and that’s going to happen.”
The highlight for Geiger in Laredo was his three-hit, five-RBI game against the Wingnuts on July 9 during a two-week stretch that raised his average with the Lemurs from .171 to .320.
Geiger never replicated that night or those weeks, finishing 5 for 40 with Laredo before being traded to Gary-Southshore for his final 19 games. He didn’t play in the postseason, instead watching Laredo win the league championship after defeating the Wingnuts in the first round.
“I was like, ‘Shoot, if I had stayed with one of them I’d still be playing right now instead of driving home,’ ” Geiger said. “But no, I hadn’t given it a second thought. Once again, it was in (Laredo manager) Pete Incaviglia’s best interest to make a trade. No hard feelings there, either.”
Geiger is so understanding, in fact, that he welcomes a second stint with the Wingnuts. He just may not be ready to discuss a third or a fourth.
“It would be nice to stay in one place more than a month and a half,” Geiger said. “…The returning guys that we had here were great friends of mine during the season. They kept in constant contact with me when I was down in Laredo or Gary. They were always there to send me a text to keep me plugging along.
“Having those guys in the locker room next to me instead of a phone call away is a huge advantage.”