07/17/2002 10:17 pm ET
Selby making most of opportunity
Journeyman making solid contribution for Tribe
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Bill Selby has taken the long, frustrating rides back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues. He’s been up and down twice this season already with the Indians.
But the way Selby has played in his latest recall, he might have earned steady employment in the Majors for the rest of this season. For Selby has proved he can handle the demands of his utility player’s role.
The latest proof of this was his play Wednesday night in the Tribe’s 8-5 loss to the Twins.
The 31-year-old Selby was asked at the last minute to step in for Travis Fryman, who’s having more problems with his ailing shoulder. Selby did. He played third base without much trouble, if you discount his throwing error in the eighth inning on a ball that Jim Thome couldn’t scoop out of the dirt.
“You come to the park expecting to play -- in the later innings or whenever, you know,” Selby said. “But when (manager Joel Skinner) told me Travis couldn’t go today, it was no big deal. You go in there and try to do the job.”
Selby has made doing the job look easy. His main contribution Wednesday night was at the plate, though a contribution like his proved meaningless in a game that had so many runs scored.
Still, at the time, Selby’s hit did look as if it would be more important than it turned out to be . Facing Twins starter Rick Reed with one on and two outs in the sixth inning, Selby homered to cut into a 5-2 lead.
“Billy’s getting the opportunity to play, and he’s putting some good swings on the ball,” Skinner said. “He got that ball out front and drove it out to center field.”
To Selby, none of this seems a big deal.
“Like I said the other day, I’m just trying to do my job,” said Selby, who has shown he’s too modest to make a big to-do of anything. “If the situation arises where I can try to drive in a run, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Having success in that area just might lead to more plate appearances for Selby. He has had three big hits this week, including his walk-off grand slam Sunday afternoon in the 10-7 win over the Yankees.
But he understands his role well. He’s a day-to-day player, and he needs to prepare himself for every opportunity that comes his way.
“I’m a guy who’s on-call,” he said, dismissing hints that he might be winning a starter’s job.
His role here reminds him of an off-season job he had years ago in the minors. At the time, he worked for a trucking company, and he was classified as a “casual” worker, which meant he was on call at a moment’s notice.
“They just called me in at 2, 3 in the morning, whatever time, so I'd just come in to work if somebody didn’t show up,” he said. “That’s kinda like what it is, you know.
“I come to the park, expecting to play. If I don’t, be ready to play in later innings or whatever.”
Justice B. Hill, a senior writer, covers the Indians for MLB.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.