SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Never having taken no for an answer, Stephen Cardullo heard a yes from the Rockies, who announced on Friday that Cardullo has made the team as a reserve corner outfielder/first baseman.Colorado added Cardullo, 29, to the 40-man roster in the spot vacated by righty reliever Jason Motte,
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Never having taken no for an answer, Stephen Cardullo heard a yes from the Rockies, who announced on Friday that Cardullo has made the team as a reserve corner outfielder/first baseman.
Colorado added Cardullo, 29, to the 40-man roster in the spot vacated by righty reliever Jason Motte, who was designated for assignment before the second season of a two-year, $10 million contract. Motte has dealt with years of arm and shoulder issues.
Last season, Cardullo hit .308 at Triple-A Albuquerque to complete an unlikely rise to the Majors and hit .214 with two home runs in 27 games. A 24th-round Draft selection by the D-backs out of Florida State in 2010, Cardullo spent two years in that system before being released. He then spent the next four years in independent ball -- once playing for a team that folded during the season -- before signing a Minor League deal with the Rockies.
This offseason, the Rockies removed Cardullo from their Major League roster. He was grateful they re-signed him to a Minor League deal. Then he and his brother, Chris, set a mental and physical preparation plan to help him regain his spot.
"He had been on to a lot of personal growth books, and he and I this offseason dug deep into that," Cardullo said. "That's what got me ready for this."
Cardullo has hit .379 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 29 Spring Training games through Thursday's 10-5 victory over the Padres. It was after that game that manager Bud Black, general manager Jeff Bridich and the coaching staff informed him he had made the team.
After texting his parents, his brother and his sister, Cardullo calmly did his arm care exercises in his effort to never hear no again.
His father, Stephen Sr., works in the corporate office for Jim Moran & Associates, and his mother, Kelly, is a receptionist at a chiropractic firm. Cardullo said his parents supported him. His father, who had a track-and-field scholarship as a javelin thrower at the University of Texas, El Paso, hit with him in the offseasons.
Making the Majors may have been unlikely, given the journey, but the genes gave him a shot. His mother was a swimmer in her youth. His sister, Stephanie, played collegiate tennis at Florida Atlantic. His brother is the head workout designer for Orangetheory Fitness.
"It's what I pride myself in, my preparation," Cardullo said. "It keeps my confidence up, working out, preparing. There is a lot of work to be done. I am grateful, excited and ready to go."
Not even in 2012, when the London Rippers of the Frontier League became the London Road Warriors and then ceased operation, did Cardullo stray from his dream. The Florence Freedom offered a landing place, then three standout years with the Canadian-American Association's Rockland Boulders in Pomona, N.Y., earned him a shot with the Rockies.
The country is dotted with independent leagues, which are not affiliated with the Majors. At times, a team will pick up a down-on-his-luck former Major Leaguer, but they're usually the catch-all for players like Cardullo -- who either were discarded by affiliated teams or not even offered an opportunity. But Major League organizations pay some attention, either to fill a hole on a club or to see if someone fell through the cracks.
Problem is they can be scarce, and sometimes the real world pays better than the dream. Cardullo, who is proud to be the shining light for independent players everywhere, was fortunate.
"Deep down, I always believed," Cardullo said. "That's the power of dreams, the power of goals, the power of belief in yourself. Anyone in that situation, if they believe in their heart and work hard for it, they will achieve it."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.