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Ashley drills an RBI double for first MLB hit

MIAMI -- After 10 long seasons and 890 games in the Minor Leagues, Brewers catcher Nevin Ashley made the most of his first swing in the Majors.

Making his first Major League start because regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy was suffering concussion symptoms, Ashley's first swing produced his first career hit, a double, and his first RBI in the second inning of the Brewers' 5-2 loss on Wednesday in the series finale at Marlins Park. It sparked a celebration back in Evansville, Ind., where wife Ashley -- that's right, Ashley Ashley -- was watching with family and friends.

Ashley finished the game going 1-for-2, getting hit by a pitch in the eighth, before returning to the clubhouse to find a slew of text messages.

"My phone is blowing up right now from friends and family," Ashley, 31, said. "I was looking for a fastball and [Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler] threw it out over the plate. Luckily, I didn't miss it."

Said Brewers manager Craig Counsell: "You see moments where guys get their first hits, but when a guy has waited that long for it, it's pretty special."

Ashley's career is a story of perseverance.

The fan club knows Ashley's story of perseverance well. A sixth-round Draft pick of the Rays in 2006, Ashley earned All-Prospect honors in the 2009 Arizona Fall League and traveled with the big league team in the 2010 playoffs in case they suffered an injury.

But his stock had fallen by 2012, when Ashley suffered a broken right hand on a foul tip. He spent 2013 with the Reds' Triple-A team and considered retiring, but was encouraged by his wife to hang on, and inspired by teammate Corky Miller to rediscover a love for the game. In 2014, Ashley played for the Pirates Triple-A team and came within an inch of the big leagues in June when he briefly joined the club, only to be sent back to the Minors without being activated.

With the Brewers' top affiliate in Colorado Springs, Colo. this season, Ashley batted .306 with eight home runs and 61 RBIs in 94 games. The Brewers promoted him on Tuesday to be their extra catcher, and Marcell Ozuna's foul tip off Lucroy's left jaw on Tuesday created an opportunity for Ashley to start.

"I'm excited to go out there and keep doing what I'm doing," he said.

Ashley learned of the starting assignment when Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron showed him the lineup card. He called his wife at home in Indiana, who hurriedly searched for a flight that would get her to Miami by game time. Alas, she was forced to watch on television.

"The whole family is going to have a little viewing party at home," Ashley said.

He became the seventh player to make his Major League debut with the Brewers this year. The six others are pitchers: Tyler Cravy, Zach Davies, David Goforth, Taylor Jungmann, Ariel Pena and Tyler Wagner.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
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