It’s easy to focus on the glitz and glamor of major league baseball. After all, the league is filled with young, good looking guys with a lot of money in their pockets. The world is their playground and nothing seems out their reach. But not everyone can be a star; dozens of players hang on the fringe of big leagues and literally don’t know where they will be from one day to the next.
Twins rookie pitcher Alex Burnett is proof of that. On March 18, the 22-year-old was sent to minor league camp. His dream of making the opening day roster seemed lost. On April 4 however, the Twins placed reliever Clay Condrey on the Disabled List and called up Burnett to the big club. He made his big league debut 4 days later in Anaheim pitching a scoreless inning in relief.
10 days later Burnett found himself back in Triple A when the Twins decided they needed another lefty in the bullpen and called up veteran Ron Mahay. Burnett was down but not out, after just 3 days in Rochester he was recalled by the Twins when Jose Mijares went down with an elbow injury.
I discussed this hectic stretch with the right-hander earlier in the week.
DZ: It’s been an eventful couple of weeks - you made the team, got sent down, came back - could you just talk about that?
BURNETT: Yeah, I’ve been really unorganized, is how I want to put it. You know, moving up and down, having to get ready and having to go so fast with plane flights and everything. So, my suitcases and everything are totally unorganized- thrown everywhere - it’s been hectic, but as long as I keep coming back here (pauses), hopefully I can stay here a little bit longer.
DZ: So, you go through spring training - when exactly did you find out you made the team?
BURNETT: I was in spring training, the team - the big team - had already left; they were here playing St. Louis and I was down in Ft. Myers taking a nap and I had 20 missed calls and so I ended up calling one of them back and I thought they were playing a joke on me or something like that and I found out they called me (up).
DZ: Who was the first person you called to tell the news?
BURNETT: The first person I called was my girlfriend actually and she was excited and then I called my mom and then my agent and other people after that.
DZ: You come up here, pitched a little bit, were successful and then they decide they want a lefthander (Ron Mahay), so they send you down. How did you deal with that?
BURNETT: I knew I was up here to fill a spot and that what I was just doing. When I got sent down, I was expecting that at some point and then getting called back up is what I was surprised about.
DZ: How far did you even get before you got called back up?
BURNETT: We had a couple of games in Lehigh Valley and then we went back to Rochester and then the next I found out that I got called back up.
DZ: So, it was a roller coaster in a good way.
BURNETT: Yeah, sure I’ll take it (laughs).