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05/17/08 4:15 PM ET
Aubrey's call finally comes
Oft-injured Tribe prospect in Majors, if only for a few days
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The No. 23 jersey hanging in the visitors' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park on Saturday afternoon belonged to first baseman Mike Aubrey. Finally. "It's nice having a number other than 68," Aubrey said with a smile.
Aubrey, promoted from Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday when Jeremy Sowers was sent back down, wore No. 68 the last few springs, as a member of the Tribe's big league roster in Spring Training camp. But given Aubrey's penchant for injuries, the odds of him ever joining the actual big league roster looked slimmer and slimmer as time went by.
Ever since the Indians took Aubrey with the 11th overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, his inability to remain healthy has gotten in the way of his obvious talent.
The 2004 season, which he split between Class A Kingston and Double-A Akron, was the only one of his first five professional campaigns in which he played more than 65 games. The 26-year-old Aubrey has battled everything from a bad back to a pulled hamstring to a strained knee.
In general, though, when Aubrey has been healthy, he's hit. And that's just what he's done at Akron and Triple-A Buffalo this year.
With Akron, he was batting .277 with nine doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs in 24 games. When Jordan Brown went down with a knee injury at Buffalo late last month, Aubrey received his first promotion to Triple-A, and he responded with a .341 average, four doubles and five RBIs in 11 games.
"The more I'm out there, the more I can perform and put up numbers," said Aubrey, who is in the last of his Minor League option years. "If I'm not out there, it's hard to do so. I never lost confidence in my ability. I've always been a competitor. When I'm out there, I'm going to make the most of the situation."
The big league situation that prompted Aubrey's promotion is this weekend's Interleague set with the Reds. Playing in a National League city, manager Eric Wedge has more need for pinch-hitters and defensive replacements off the bench.
This could be a short callup for Aubrey. On Tuesday, the Indians will resume their regular American League schedule, and they might opt to go with seven relievers again.
"We're going to play through this weekend," Wedge said, "then go from there."
In the meantime, Aubrey is going to make the most of an opportunity that, at times, seemed doubtful, given his injury woes.
But Aubrey said he never fretted.
"You just put your head down and plow forward, and good things happen to good people for a reason," he said. "I just worked hard and did the best I could. Finally, this day has come. You try to soak it all in and enjoy it, but at some point the business starts and you have to do your job."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.