Music Man: Griffin's second passion is guitar

Music Man: Griffin's second passion is guitar

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher A.J. Griffin said there is a big difference playing the guitar in front of a small crowd at an Arizona watering hole and pitching in front of a sellout crowd at a Major League ballpark.

"I'm more nervous playing music," Griffin said. "You can mess up on a pitch in a game and strike a guy out. But in music, you miss a note, everybody knows. I feel there is a little more pressure. I'm not as good at music as I am pitching."

Griffin is pretty good at pitching, especially right now. He is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA after four starts for the Rangers, and he prefers pitching on a Major League mound.

"There is nothing better than playing in a Major League game," he said.

But apparently Griffin is not bad at strumming a Taylor 214 CE guitar either, whether it's "Don't Forget Me" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Closer to the Sun" by Slightly Stoopid or something from Led Zeppelin, although he says "Stairway to Heaven" is "overplayed."

Music is Griffin's second passion behind baseball, and the guitar is his outlet. He has been playing since he was a kid growing up in San Diego, and he takes it with him on the road. Griffin is good enough to play with Tramps & Thieves at Old Town Tavern near his Arizona home in Scottsdale.

"Not a big place to play but a fun, intimate place," he said.

Griffin has also done a couple of online concert benefits by Major League players in the spring.

"I think I was about 12 when I picked up the guitar," he said. "My next-door neighbor growing up, it was like my second family basically over in San Diego, he played the guitar, and I want to say he was like three or four years older than me. He was like in bands in high school, and I just thought it was cool. He was like my older brother, basically.

"It's something to do it. It kind of stimulates your mind and helps your creativity."

It also fills up the long hours when you are spending two years trying to recover from Tommy John elbow construction surgery. When you go through that, like Griffin did in 2014-15, the guitar can become your best friend.

"If I didn't have that, it could be tough," he said. "It helps you detatch and compartmentalize your life a little more, just not putting all your eggs in your sports basket. Being able to enjoy something more than sports is pretty good. It's healthy for people to do that."

Griffin also has a bass guitar that he is messing around with, and last fall, he started to play the keyboard. But the guitar is what he takes on the road and brings into the clubhouse.

"I don't always get around to playing it, but I like having it there if I feel like jamming," he said. "It's just a good way to spend your time. I have always been a musical person since the time I was little. I always enjoyed music. I find it interesting, and I like to get my creative side going."

Maybe Griffin has a second career once he is done playing baseball.

"I don't want to make anything a living," Griffin said. "It makes it more like a job. I just enjoy doing it. If it turns out I can make a little extra money on the side, that would be cool. I just enjoy playing and messing around with it."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.