After our team scored 5 runs in the top of the 9th Thursday night to beat Portland, our manager, Todd Steverson, called everyone into the clubhouse right away. He proceeded to tell us that 4 River Cats were headed to the big leagues, including 2 for the first time. Travis Buck, Kiko Calero (activated off the DL from his rehab stint), Carlos Gonzalez, and me were all going up.
I was shocked…totally caught off-guard. But I instantly became very excited, and the team congratulated all of us. Then I went straight for my phone to call my closest friends and family. I woke most of them up, since this occurred around 1:00 AM central time, but they didn’t seem to mind.
After getting the logistics figured out, we boarded a plane early the next morning for Dallas, off for a 3-game series with the Rangers. My entire family was able to make it to the series, which thrilled me. So many people have played a part in supporting me to get to this point, and I’m glad many of them were able to make it to my opening weekend in the majors. It felt great to be asked to pitch for one of the top pitching staffs in baseball this year.
Carlos wasted no time getting his first big-league hit in his first AB, doubling to left field that night. The next night, I debuted with 2 outs in the 8th inning. I gave up a groundball RBI single up the middle to Ian Kinsler, but then proceeded to pick him off to end the inning. What a way to get my first big-league out!
Many people have asked me what that feeling was like. I told them the hardest part was the run in from left-center field. My legs felt like jelly, and I just kept telling myself, "Don’t fall down…don’t trip and fall." When I got to the mound and toed that rubber, I was fine. In my head, I said, "I’ve done this thousands of times…I’ve been on a mound before…I can do this"…and I really felt pretty relaxed. I know I still had some adrenaline going, but not as bad as it was when they called down and told me to start warming up.
After returning home, I got to experience my first taste of The Coliseum as a member of the A’s. I’ve since pitched in 2 more games (the last 2 games of our 3-game sweep vs. Detroit), allowing 1 hit over 2.2 innings. My first taste of big league time was in a pretty low-stress situation, which was perfect for getting my feet wet. Then my 2nd outing came with the bases loaded, 1 out, and Miguel Cabrera coming to the plate. He hit a sac fly, but that was the only run they scored, and we came back to get a walk-off win in that game. It’s been GREAT being a part of 2 wins in my last 2 outings. And I feel like each outing has given me a new level of comfort, and I have yet to show my best stuff at this level. Hopefully, with each outing, a greater level of relaxation will occur, and I can continue to improve as a reliever.
There is one thing I would like to say before I wrap up this edition of GZWI. This is something that all athletes feel at times, and I want to try to make sure fans understand this. When you, as fans, come to a game – that fuels us as players. The more fans, the more excitement, and the better intensity we play with. However, as players, we have a greater commitment than just what you see out on the field (in practice and games). We don’t always have time to sign autographs, especially for every single person who wants one. We can’t give away a ball to every single person who asks for one. And we don’t always have time to stop and visit with every fan that says ‘hi’ to us.
We have many things to tend to in the clubhouse. Such things include interviews with the media, lifting weights, injury-prevention and maintenance workouts, scheduling public player appearances for the coming weeks, etc., as well as our focus and preparation in getting ready for the game. We also have scouting report meetings, and, of course, we need to eat when we have time in between workouts.
I guess what I’m asking is that you please don’t get upset if we sign autographs for a few people, but can’t stick around and sign for everyone. Don’t feel offended if we throw someone a ball, but you don’t get one. And when you yell ‘hi’ to us and we don’t acknowledge you, it’s not necessarily because we’re stuck-up jerks – most of the time we’re focusing on the task at hand, whether it’s an actual game or a workout session to get us physically ready for our next game. We have a lot of demands on our time, and we can’t keep every single person happy.
I’m not saying any of that to get you to shy away from asking for such things. But please understand that we can’t respond to every single fan. It’s a grueling job with the long road trips, the time spent away from those closest to us, and the physical demands of the job itself. Please be considerate of that when you attend your next game… That being said, I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve already provided me!
2008 Major League Stats: 3 G, 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB
2008 AAA Stats: 2-0, 8 SV, 0.37 ERA, 19 G, 24.1 IP, 15 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 20 K, 4 BB
A 4-game winning streak has kept us within striking distance of the Angels (3.5 GB), as they come to town for a 3-game set over the weekend. The team is resting up today to give L.A. our best shot and let them know our record is not a fluke, as some so-called ‘experts’ are saying – we’re here to contend for an A.L. West title. See ya at the ballpark!