Tucson Padres: A player's 1st call-up etched in memory

2013-05-11T00:00:00Z Tucson Padres: A player's 1st call-up etched in memoryDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It was a few minutes before midnight when Robbie Erlin's cell phone rang. Manager Pat Murphy's name popped up on the screen, and the Tucson Padres left-hander couldn't imagine what his skipper wanted.

Murphy was calling to tell Erlin he was being promoted to the big leagues, but decided to have some fun with him first.

"I told him a story that there was an MLB investigation going on and he was part of it," said Murphy of Erlin's short-lived April promotion. "I told him I wanted to know what he knew about it. He said right away, 'No, Murph, I'm not involved.'"

Murphy finally shared the good news with Erlin after a few minutes of yanking his chain and told him he needed to report to San Diego the next morning.

"It was a very exciting few days," Erlin said before he pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run and seven hits, in Tucson's 6-2 win over Albuquerque on Friday night at Kino Stadium. "It took me two or three days to really calm down and appreciate things."

Getting called up to the major leagues is a moment players never forget. Some managers like to have some fun with players, while others keep it serious and get straight to the point.

We talked to two others in the Tucson Padres clubhouse about how they found out they were going to the show. Their stories:

Catcher Rene Rivera

The situation: Rivera was called up at the end of the 2004 season as a 21-year-old. He was playing at High-A Inland Empire in the Seattle Mariners organization. The team needed an extra backstop for the remainder of the season.

In his own words: "I was in A-ball, back in 2004 and we were playing in a playoff game and lost. I thought we were going home. My manager, Daren Brown, called me into the office and I thought he was going to talk about next year and what I should work on. He gave me a ball and asked me, 'What does this ball say?' I said, 'I don't know, it's a ball.' He said, 'Well, look at it.'

"I looked at it and it said 'Major League Baseball.' He said, 'That's where you're going tomorrow.' I was so emotional. It was what I was working on my entire life. My dream came true. You work all your life to get that news.

"I was shocked. He told me if we won that playoff game, they wouldn't have called me up. So I was happy we lost because I got to go to the big leagues. It was one of the best moments that has ever happened in my life."

Outfielder Travis Buck

The situation: Buck was a 23-year-old prospect trying to make the Oakland A's roster out of spring training. Prior to the team's final preseason game, played in Oakland, he was called into manager Bob Geren's office.

In his own words: "It was my first big-league spring training. I was just a young kid who had played the season before in Double-A, and everyone kept telling me I had no chance to make the big-league club. I just wanted to go in there and show them what I could do, and then maybe later in the year something would happen where I would get a call.

"A couple of injuries then happened in spring and I had played really well. With Oakland, we finished spring with the Bay Bridge series, which is the A's versus the Giants. The first game was over in San Francisco and then the next two were in Oakland. I was walking around and played the first two games and the last one was a day game.

"The night before, I'm getting ready to leave and walked by the hallway and saw my name on the back of an Oakland jersey with no number. So, I was like, 'What's going on?' They called me into the office and I sat down and they said they appreciated what I had done and that I had a great spring and that I made the team. I was like, 'Wait, what?' Bob Geren and Billy Beane were the ones who told me. It was an unbelievable feeling.

"I went from a kid in Double-A and a guy with no chance of making it to in the big leagues. Right after that happened, I found out we were on the road and opening up in Seattle. I grew up about three hours away from there.

"It all just lined up."

¡Tus Padres!

• Highlight: The Padres (17-18) scored three times in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie and cruised from there to win the four-game series against the Isotopes. Center fielder Jaff Decker led the way, going 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs. Nick Vincent earned the win in relief - his first of the season. Starter Robbie Erlin  went 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run in a no-decision.

• Big number: 5: Five of Tucson's RBIs came with two outs. Decker and Gregorio Petit each had two, and Rene Rivera added one.

• Tonight's starters: RHP Tim Stauffer (2-2, 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP Ross Wolf (0-1, 1.77 ERA)

Daniel Berk

Today

• What: Round Rock at Padres

• When: 7:05 p.m.

• Radio: 1290-AM

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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