Rollins ready to prove he belongs in bigs
OAKLAND -- David Rollins has taken the tough route to the Majors, but the Mariners' Rule 5 Draft pick arrived on Saturday ready to make amends for his mistake and make the most of his new opportunity.
Rollins, a left-handed reliever who drew an 80-game suspension after testing positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol late in Spring Training, had to be added to the 25-man roster on Saturday or be returned to the Astros now that his suspension is complete.
Rollins wound up making his Major League debut in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the A's, throwing a perfect eighth with one strikeout on 12 pitches.
"When [the bullpen phone] rang, I was just, 'Oh man, I hope it's me,' because everybody wants to be that guy to go out there and help the team," Rollins said. "I just took a big breath and said, 'Let's go.' My nerves were going crazy, but once I got out there and got the first out, everything went back to being baseball."
But it's been a while since Rollins could just worry about the game and not everything else.
"It's been a long journey, and I've done a lot of things to help me better myself as a person, teammate and just in general," Rollins, 25, said prior to the game. "It's been a long ride, but I've started putting it behind me and made the best out of what I had. I've just continued to pitch and try to come out and do as well as I can."
Rollins pitched well enough for Triple-A Tacoma the past two weeks to warrant the opportunity, throwing 9 1/3 scoreless innings in seven appearances to continue the outstanding work he'd done in spring.
"He was a front-runner to make our club in Spring Training," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "There weren't any secrets. He threw the ball extremely well."
But all that went out the window when the failed drug test came to light in the final week of camp. Instead of opening the season with Seattle, he spent two months at the team's facility in Arizona working out and attending drug and alcohol abuse classes before being allowed to pitch in Tacoma the past two weeks.
Rollins admitted to reporters following the suspension that he took the steroid during the offseason to help recover from a sore arm while pitching in winter ball. He spent the ensuing weeks kicking himself for costing himself a golden opportunity to make the Majors as a Rule 5 selection.
"For about a week, it was one of those deals where, 'What am I doing?'" Rollins said. "I could have ruined the rest of my career. I could be getting sent home and never get to play baseball again. I thought about that all the time. It got to the point where I just had to look past it and move forward. That's the only way to go.
"I still have it in there, the thought process of how it felt with everything being the way it was and how hard I worked to get back up here. I've learned to block out the negative and look more positive and turn negatives into positives. I feel like I've done really well with turning this big negative into a better positive."
Now he just wants to pitch and prove that he belongs.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," he said while preparing for his first big league game. "I feel like I'm still dreaming. I had a chance to do it out of Spring Training and kind of got set back. I got the call, and it's still crazy. I've been working hard every day to get back here, and it's nice to see the hard work I've put in since everything happened is starting to pay off."