LOS ANGELES -- Luke Williams wanted something special to commemorate one of the greatest phone calls of his life, so, like anybody, he bought a Kevin Durant jersey.
Let him explain.
Williams was back at Triple-A Lehigh Valley following a successful stint with Team USA in an Olympic qualifier in Florida. He had a free night on June 7, so he and Mickey Moniak traveled from Allentown, Pa., to Brooklyn to watch the Nets play the Bucks in Game 2 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Williams’ older brother, Jake, used to live in Brooklyn and had Nets season tickets. Jake gave them to his brother.
Williams and Moniak took the 2 Train to Barclays Center. Williams’ phone rang along the way. It was Triple-A manager Gary Jones.
He told Williams that he had been called up to the big leagues.
“Then the phone call cut off,” Williams said Tuesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. “So Mickey and I had like 5-10 minutes to just kind of go crazy and enjoy the moment together. Then we stepped off the train and we were like, ‘Huh, I wonder what everyone was thinking on the train?’”
So if you happened to be on the 2 Train on June 7 and saw two grown men hugging and high-fiving and shedding a tear or two, you witnessed Williams celebrating his long-awaited call to The Show.
“I called Gary and [player development director] Josh Bonifay back,” Williams said. “I was like, ‘Hey, sorry, I was on the subway.’ And then we went to the game, watched it. That is why I have the KD jersey. I bought it that day. It’s the one basketball jersey I have. Mickey and I were like, ‘We’ve got to buy jerseys, just to remember this moment.’ He got Kyrie. I got KD. I think I won on that one.”
Williams’ good times kept coming. He had a hit in his first big league at-bat on June 8. He had a walk-off homer for the first homer of his career on June 9. Then he got a pinch-hit single in front of 75-100 family and friends on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Williams grew up in Southern California, graduating from Dana Hills High School in Dana Point.
“I just made sure not too look at them,” he said. “I would get pretty lost. But that’s been part of the whole process, just trying to stay calm and stay in the moment -- especially the first game in Citizens Bank Park when it was full capacity. That was pretty nerve-wracking. Trying to calm your nerves, especially coming in for a pinch-hit at-bat. The adrenaline rush -- that’s something I’m trying to still trying to get used to. Still trying to learn, but it’s fun.”
Of course, before Williams got that pinch-hit, he wore his brand-new Durant jersey on the team’s flight to Los Angeles on Sunday. It was part of an NBA theme that Archie Bradley concocted.
Philadelphians being Philadelphians, they roasted Williams online about his choice of jersey because the 76ers could play the Nets in the Eastern Conference finals.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later, right?” he said. “Everyone gets roasted.”
So, Luke, 76ers or Nets?
“I have the 76ers,” he said.
Did Phillies solve the Didi mystery?
Didi Gregorius fell on his right elbow trying to catch a fly ball in the outfield in April. He hasn't recovered.
Gregorius has not played since May 12 because he continues to suffer from inflammation and stiffness, which has been puzzling and frustrating to many. But after visits with multiple doctors, Gregorius and the Phillies finally think they know why. Phillies general manager Sam Fuld said Tuesday that Gregorius has a condition called “pseudogout.”
“There are calcium crystals that formed in the blood,” he said. “It's, I guess, a pretty rare condition. But it's one that is not particularly concerning. We spent the last couple of days just trying to identify the best plan of care. It's just really about finding some medication that put him in the best spot. As soon as that is sorted out -- which we should have clarity on that very soon -- he'll go back to baseball. He'll be getting out there in a [Triple-A] Lehigh Valley uniform pretty soon. That's the plan, and I think that's the full expectation. We're confident that will work itself out.”
Gregorius had been scheduled to resume his rehab assignment on Tuesday at Lehigh Valley. Instead, it could resume later this week.
“It seems like it's very manageable,” Fuld said. “It's of relatively low concern. It's just unique.
“Everybody seems to be aligned and on the same page now. Finally, for Didi's sake, we can get him at the one-yard line in creating a clear plan. It's frustrating for him and everybody else involved, but him in particular. Whenever you get hurt, you want to have a clear path to get back, so I feel for him.”