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Baseball a family affair for Pomeranz brothers

SAN DIEGO -- The Pomeranz brothers batted out of order in terms of their arrivals in the Majors.

Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz, 23, made it late last season, his first professional season, and is ranked by as the No. 2 prospect in the organization. Orioles right-hander Stuart Pomeranz, 27, took the long and often painful route, through three organizations plus independent ball, a battle with alcoholism that he has acknowledged and some real concern that he'd blown his career.

But on Monday night, all worked out right.

Drew was preparing to make his ninth career start at San Diego when he looked at one of the televisions in the visiting clubhouse and saw that the Orioles had called Stu into a 14-3 loss to the Rangers in Baltimore. Stu threw three scoreless innings.

"It's very cool," Drew said after talking by phone to Stu, something that happens most days if not every day. "It doesn't happen all the time that two brothers make it to the big leagues. It's happened a fair amount of times, I'm sure, but it's cool to see him finally make it."

That night, Drew hit his first Major League home run. He was hit by a line drive in the second inning and removed after three innings of the eventual 3-1 loss to the Padres. Still, the Pomeranz brothers both had good stories to tell.

"I was happy for him when he got called up last year," Stu Pomeranz said. "But me being here now, too, is pretty awesome. He was really happy for me when I called him and told him."

Drew watched and admired his brother, even if he didn't follow every step.

Stu signed with the Cardinals in 2003 out of Collierville (Tenn.) High School in a suburb of Memphis, when they took him in the second round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. When Drew starred at Houston High in Germantown, Tenn., he was selected in the 12th round by the Rangers but decided to play college ball at Ole Miss. He would later say it was a smart move, because he realized through his brother that he could use the extra maturity. The Indians took Drew fifth overall in 2010 and traded him to the Rockies last year.

By the time Drew entered pro ball, he had seen plenty of cautionary tales from his big brother.

"I think he learned what not to do mostly, early on in my career he can look back at that and see what not to do," Stu Pomeranz said. "But I give him advice when he calls and asks for it. I know how he is and I'm not going to get on him and tell him what to do and what not to do. But he's pretty good about asking.

"He's pretty much a straightforward kind of guy. He's young enough to see what I did and the bad decisions I made. So he didn't have to make those, which -- looking back on it for me -- I'm OK with that. I'm here now. I learned what I learned, and I'm who I am because of that. I think it helped him out, too."

Drew, however, said it was not just a case of watching his big brother, then going the other way.

All of Stu's experiences, good and bad, gave him a realistic view of professional baseball. Drew knows more than anything that his own route to the Majors -- big league Spring Training without throwing a pitch in the Minors, and a fortunate trade that put him in the bigs in his first professional season -- is to be cherished, since most people don't make it so quickly. His brother's making it this year also proves that difficulties can be overcome.

"Some people get into pro ball and they don't know what to expect," Drew said. "I knew a good deal about what was about to happen, what was going on, how to do things, how to handle things. Plus I knew how hard it could be. He had a hard road. I followed along with the long and bad side of it, but he made it through. You never know how that's going to turn out."

Drew had a couple of rough experiences along the way -- an arrest for refusing to take a breathalyzer test and possessing a fake ID in college, and a disturbing the peace arrest in Oxford, Miss., last October (that charge was dropped).

But it was nothing compared to Stu's path. Stu never even made it to Triple-A, which would have put him in Memphis and practically in his hometown. The Cardinals parted ways with him in 2007. Stu pitched in independent ball in '09, after parting ways with the Cardinals, was with the Rockies' chain at Double-A Tulsa in 2010, and pitched two games with the Dodgers' chain at Double-A Chattanooga in '11.

It wasn't until late in the winter that the Orioles signed Stu.

"He knew what he had to do," Drew said. "He knew it was probably his last chance. He's not old, old, but he's 27 and was going to turn 28 this year. For a guy with no big league experience, it could be harder to sign with a team or just have a team give you a shot. He knew what he had to do. I didn't have to encourage him or say anything."

Stu, sober for 15 months, pitched a total of eight scoreless outings at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk before the Orioles gave him the call for Monday's game.

"I just think that every day, I don't know how long I'm going to be here, but every moment I'm going to do everything I can," he said.

Stu was talking with his parents in Collierville, Tenn., when Drew -- having already been hit by the line drive -- launched his home run and entered a slow, stiff home run trot.

"They didn't know what to do, they didn't know whether to freak out about the home run he hit or talk to me," Stu said. "So I was like, just call me back later. Watch what he's doing. It's probably pretty weird for them for sure."

Whatever Drew is doing is enhanced by the fact that his big brother is getting a chance to build his own memories at the Major League level.

"Just knowing all the stuff that he's been through, thinking he may not even ever sign with a team this year," Drew said. "He had a good opportunity and he made the most of it."

Colorado Rockies, Drew Pomeranz, Stuart Pomeranz