Brad Mills took a trip to New York City last weekend, and he did it up big. He checked into the swanky Le Parker Meridien Hotel, walked around Manhattan and even took in a game at Yankee Stadium.
That Mills did it in an Angels uniform made his weekend even sweeter.
"It was cool," said Mills, the former Arizona Wildcats standout who now pitches for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. "I had never been to Yankee Stadium before. If they needed a just-in-case guy, the fact that they brought me up was flattering."
Mills, 27, spent exactly one day on the Angels' active roster before being sent back to Triple-A, where he was slotted back into the Bees rotation. The left-hander will pitch against the Tucson Padres today at Kino Stadium.
Tucson opened its four-game homestand against Salt Lake on Saturday night by scoring nine unanswered runs for a 9-8 win.
Mills first learned of his promotion April 12, a Thursday. He took a red-eye flight to New York City, where he met the Angels as they arrived in town.
Mills was activated April 14 to replace reliever Scott Downs, who was out for a few days with an ankle injury. He warmed up in the bullpen during the eighth inning of an Angels' 7-1, nationally televised win over the Yankees but wasn't needed.
Still, the Yankee Stadium experience was a "trip," he said.
"Just hearing the guys in the bleachers. … They do not sell themselves short as far as getting on you," he said. "It's anything: about your family, about how bad you are, stuff like that. I don't think anything was off-limits."
Mills was sent down after the game so the Angels could active starting pitcher Jerome Williams from the 15-day disabled list.
He was back with the Bees by Monday morning.
Short call-ups are becoming more common, especially as organizations focus more of their attention on the bullpen. Tucson Padres reliever Dale Thayer was called up by the Tampa Bay Rays for one game in 2010 and, like Mills, did not pitch.
"But it wasn't too bad," Thayer said Saturday. "It's always exciting to get called up. One day is one day. You want more, but it's still a day up there when you get to see how it all works."
Being in the big leagues, if only for a day, has its bonuses.
Mills earned $2,962, the one-day, prorated share of the big-league minimum. He received generous per diem money to cover his meals, and had a great seat at one of baseball's best parks.
Now he wants to get back.
Mills appeared in 14 games for the Toronto Blue Jays between 2009 and 2011, going 2-3 with an 8.57 ERA. The Angels traded for him in December with hopes of converting the curveball specialist into a back-end starter or situational reliever. In two Triple-A starts, Mills - a college walk-on who has a degree in civil engineering - is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA. Should he keep it up, Mills will earn more than just a one-day appearance.
"They told me I'm in their plans," he said. "Your first year with a team, you never know if they're just telling you that or if they sincerely mean it. The fact that this happened, and they gave me a look reinforces that. They really do believe that I have a future here."
• What: Salt Lake at Padres
• Where: Kino Stadium
• When: 2:05 p.m.
• Radio: 1600-AM