Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Call and Then ... the Life of a September Call-Up

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Call and Then ... the Life of a September Call-Up

Article excerpt

The expansion of active rosters in September provides a window into the rewards and challenges of minor league life. Players lucky enough to get the call have no complaints; they laugh at the difficulty.

* * * *

Jaff Decker caught somewhat of a break. His girlfriend's father works for UPS, he said, easing the task of shipping his belongings back to his Arizona home while also packing to join the Pirates in Milwaukee. Class AAA Indianapolis was in the middle of a six-day road trip Tuesday, when rosters expanded from 25 to 40 players, and the Pirates that day began a nine-day road trip through three National League Central Division cities, causing mass packing and some emergency shopping trips for the six players the Pirates promoted.

Because Indianapolis had only one more homestand before the end of their regular season, the players were all moving out of their apartments; Josh Wall said he already was packed when the Pirates promoted him Aug. 19.

"All the apartments are dry right now," Decker said. "You go on an eight-game, nine-game road trip, we've got our whole apartment packed in our suitcase."

Decker had another task. He lived with Brent Morel, whom the Pirates designated for assignment in July. Morel elected free agency and signed a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics, meaning Decker had to send some of Morel's things to his home in Bakersfield, Calif., and some to Nashville, Tenn., where Morel went to join the A's Class AAA affiliate.

"When he got DFA'd, I was just hanging out by myself for a little bit," Decker said with a laugh. That's the important thing to note - - the laugh. This isn't a burden but an opportunity, and Decker and the rest know how lucky they are.

Decker had some idea that he would join the Pirates: "Being on the [40-man] roster, me, [Elias] Diaz, a couple of these other guys, you know, you don't want to expect to be called up, but it's in your plans," he said. So he started packing. One 60-pound suitcase. A 35- pound baseball gear bag. A bag of extra bats. He sent some stuff home with his girlfriend and more stuff home in his car, which he shipped to Arizona. …

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