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09/15/08 7:41 PM ET
Gordon thrilled to make big leagues
Young outfielder-turned-pitcher among September callups
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- It took Brian Gordon 18 years to attend his first Major League game in person. He saw the Astros and Marlins at Minute Maid Park that day. Twelve years later, Gordon is finally dressing in his first Major League clubhouse. Gordon, who began his professional baseball career in 1997 as an outfielder in the Diamondbacks system, was added to the Rangers' September roster Monday, along with Wes Littleton, Max Ramirez and Travis Metcalf. Unlike Littleton, Ramirez and Metcalf, who have 18 combined years in professional baseball compared to Gordon's 12, Gordon has never been on a Major League roster before. "Holy smokes," Gordon said. "I don't know if there's really any words. This has been a long time waiting. This is really special. I didn't know what those words would sound like." Those words, of course, were the words of Triple-A Oklahoma pitching coach Keith Comstock, who told Gordon Sunday night: "Congratulations, you're going to the big leagues." The news came after Gordon took the loss in Oklahoma's last game of the season, so he wasn't sure what to expect when manager Bobby Jones said he was wanted in Comstock's office. Even when Comstock broke the good news, Gordon didn't know what to think. "Everything kind of slowed down and then it hit me," Gordon said. "They had to go through a second time to get it all down." When it did sink in, there were tears, Gordon admitted. "All the hard work I've put in finally paid off right there," Gordon said. Gordon was drafted in 1997, and until 2007, tried making it to the Major Leagues as an outfielder. However, in 10 Minor League seasons bouncing around from the Diamondbacks to the Angels to the Astros, he could never break through. So, he and the Astros agreed that he would transition from a left-handed-hitting outfielder to a right-handed hurler. He was even mentored by current Rangers team president Nolan Ryan prior to the 2007 season. Gordon knows what a rare story he is, but he realizes he probably wouldn't have broken into professional baseball if he hadn't done so as an outfielder. "It's not the typical path," Gordon said. "But pitching is what I always loved to do. I don't think I'd be where I'm at if I hadn't taken that path." Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said the Rangers would now evaluate Gordon against Major League competition before deciding what his future with the club is. Whatever that future may be, Gordon has already impressed Levine. "You see it all the time in the game," Levine said. "You rarely see them make the Major Leagues." And Levine insisted that this wasn't a PR stunt by the Rangers. He said the front office had talked to the Oklahoma coaches and director of player development, Scott Servais, and all the reports said Gordon could help the Rangers. Regardless of the reason, Gordon was especially grateful for the opportunity. He talked about how much this meant to his family, as well as personally. His wife and parents will be in attendance for Monday's game, but ticket requests keep coming in for the rest of the homestand. He may have to wait until at least Thursday to make his Major League debut, and when he does, fans will see he's gotten by with a fastball that ranges from 88-90 mph and three other pitches -- all of which he can locate. Manager Ron Washington will be the one to call Gordon out of the bullpen and he could relate to how Gordon feels. "It means everything because I was a 10-year Minor Leaguer before I got to the Major Leagues," Washington said.
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.