(Busch Stadium) Waking up around 10:30 this morning, Harrison Bader received a phone call from Memphis manager Stubby Clapp.
“I kind of had a little cold the last week and he asked me how my cold was and he said that I was in his lineup tonight,” explained Bader. “I was like okay, cool. He was like just making sure you’re feeling good. I was like, yeah I’m good. Then he said yeah, but that got scratched because you’re in the lineup tonight for St. Louis.”
Twenty five minutes later the car service picked up Bader for the drive to Busch Stadium, where he will make his MLB debut tonight as the starting centerfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I’m just very happy to be here,” said Bader. “Getting out with these guys and just having a good game, going out there and playing well.”
In 97 games at Memphis (AAA) this season, Bader was batting .297 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI. He also had several highlight reel plays in centerfield.
“We’ve been talking about Harrison a variety of times to come up,” said General Manager Michael Girsch. “It just felt like he’s been playing so well in Memphis, it was time to get him up here and give him a shot. We’re excited to have him.”
The move was necessitated by Dexter Fowler being placed on the disabled list with a left forearm/wrist strain. Besides Bader, the Cardinals also considered recalling Magnerius Sierra–who was already on their 40-man roster.
“Harrison didn’t have to be protected this season, so this off-season we now have a 40-man spot for Bader that otherwise could’ve been used for somebody else,” explained Girsch. “That was the decision between the two of them. Sierra’s been great, but Harrison’s been great all year in Memphis too, so we felt like it was time to give him a shot.”
The 23-year old Bader will become the sixth Cardinal to make his big league debut this season. And Harrison has kept a grounded approach as he’s watched other teammates get the call before him.
“It really just comes down to playing where your feet are at,” said Bader. “I’ve kind of stressed that a lot the past few weeks. I’ve kind of gotten questions and stuff. Just play where your feet are at and you just take care of what’s in front of you.”
The Cardinals now have one open spot on their 40-man roster as outfielder Chad Huffman was outrighted and granted his unconditional release.
As for Bader, who will have his parents, sister, and several close friends in attendance tonight, he’s just eager to get between the white lines.
“Just go out there and play baseball,” he said. “You simplify it and it’s a lot easier that way for sure.”
photo credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports, Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports