Growing up in the Philadelphia metro area, Tim Cooney cheered for the Phillies–even skipping school with friends to attend the parade after they won the World Series in 2008.
“I guess you could say it’s a dream come true,” said the left-hander upon his arrival on Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium. “It’s pretty cool growing up watching the team and now I finally get to go out and pitch against them.”
Cooney, who helped Malvern Preparatory School win the PIAA State Championship in 2009, wore number 35 in those days.
“It was because of Cole Hamels,” admitted Cooney. “I grew up watching him and kind of idolizing him, that was one of the reasons I picked that number. It’s pretty cool he’s still with the Phillies and pitching well.”
Later today, he will don number 66 and put those childhood feelings on hold as he takes the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals against his hometown team.
“I’m definitely all Cardinals right now, but it’s still in the back of my head–growing up watching them,” said the left-hander.
The opportunity to make his Major League debut comes at the expense of Adam Wainwright’s season being ended due to an Achilles injury. Cooney didn’t automatically connect the two scenarios.
“I knew I had a chance, it wasn’t first thing on my mind because I wasn’t on the roster,” he explained. “I wasn’t super focused on that, I was just kind of going about my business. But then when I got called in and Schildt (AAA manager) told me I was going to come up, it wasn’t a total shock. It was pretty cool.”
Drafted by the Cardinals in the third round (117th overall) of the 2012 draft, Cooney threw a one-hitter last season in Memphis (AAA) and led the Pacific Coast League with 14 wins.
Following a strong Spring Training, he was off to a 2-1 start this season for Memphis before being recalled.
Cooney’s arsenal includes a four and two seam fastball, curveball, changeup, and a cutter. Plus, at the encouragement of the organization, he’s been continuing his work from last season on a sinker.
photo credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports