IT NEVER GETS OLD, EVEN IF YOU’RE OLDER
As I’ve said many times, someone is lying if they are in the minor leagues and they say that they do not have Major League aspirations. Players, managers, coaches, trainers, umpires and yes, even broadcasters. When someone gets the coveted call to the Bigs, I think everyone else shares in it. Whether it’s a first time call or you’ve been there before, it’s meaningful and exciting.
Scott Atchison has been there before. In 2010, the righthander appeared in 43 games with the Red Sox, earning the Boston Baseball Writers’ “Unsung Hero” award. Shuttling back asnd forth between Pawtucket and Boston this year, Atch has been nothing but professional. An integral part of the PawSox bullpen, the Texas native is 2-1 with a stellar ERA of 1.39 and 2 saves. Atchison even made a spot start on Opening Day when Alfredo Aceves was called up to the Red Sox.
The last day in Louisville, he got the news that once again, his services were needed in Boston. “They’re calling me up. I’m leaving in a couple of hours. I’m meeting them in Pittsburgh and hopefully I’ll help them win some more games.” The 35 year old, who was originally selected in the 49th round by Seattle in 1998 still gets jazzed when his name is called. “Oh Yeah, it’s exciting. Any time you’re not in the ig Leagues, you’re trying to get there. When they call and say they need you, it’s always an exciting moment. You look forward to it. There aren’t as many butterflies this time because you know what to expect, but it’s still a very exciting thing.”
One thing that is apparent, whenever Atchison has been optioned back in the past. There are no “pity parties”. He puts his nose to the grindstone, and gets right back to work. “I try to. I think it’s a lesson for everybody. It’s easier said than done, sometimes. Knowing the situation when I come back down, I just try to stay sharp, keep doing what I’m doing and have fun. You know, this is a good group of guys here (with the PawSox) so they help make it easier to do that. It makes it nice. Just try to stay sharp, so when they call, they say ‘Atch is still doing well, let’s call him up.’ ”
Atchison concedes that there can be a “hangover” when you’re optioned back to the minors. Manager Arnie Beyeler said the other day that “guys are lying when they say it’s no big deal being farmed out”. Atchison agrees. “It’s always a big deal getting sent back down. I don’t think anyone’s ever happy to go down. Some times you can realize that it’s coming and it makes dealing with it as a person easier. You’re still frustrated. We all feel we can pitch up there or play up there. That’s where you want to be. That’s where the best are playing and you want to go up there and show your stuff against the best. You never want to get sent down from there or any level for that matter. It’s definitely a downer, but you have to find a way to get over it as soon as possible.”
There are several “elder statesmen” (35 or older) on the PawSox pitching staff. Brandon Duckworth, Randy Williams, Atchison and now Kevin Millwood. You can’t help but notice the younger guys soaking it in, watching the guys that have been there before. Atchison says he just tries to show the way. “It just happens. Randy and I have talked about it some, but it’s mostly just trying to lead by example. If we try to tell a guy that this is the way it’s done in the Big Leagues, we are consistent with that. If they see that the old guys are doing the running, getting it done…the guys that have been around are still working hard, the younger guys will do it too. You try to go about your business in a professional manner and hopefully, everybody follows.”
Atchison doesn’t take the promotion for granted. He is ready to chip in, in the thick of the perennial A.L. East battle with New York. “My first few times in the Big Leagues were with teams that were pushing 100 losses. It was exciting as an individual, but the team wasn’t winning. Every time you go up there with Boston, you’re in first place, you’re trying to win the division, and then moving on to try to win the World Series. It is always exciting, a big moment. You want to go up there and contribute as much as possible.”