KANSAS CITY -- Triple-A Omaha manager Brian Poldberg has been known to have a little fun with any of his players when they get the call to the Major Leagues. So when Poldberg was told Monday night that 23-year-old left-hander Richard Lovelady was going to get the call for the
KANSAS CITY -- Triple-A Omaha manager Brian Poldberg has been known to have a little fun with any of his players when they get the call to the Major Leagues. So when Poldberg was told Monday night that 23-year-old left-hander Richard Lovelady was going to get the call for the first time, he decided to play with Lovelady’s mind a little.
Omaha players were just getting off a plane in Omaha, coming from Chicago’s Midway Airport, and ready to grab their luggage at baggage claim. Lovelady got his bags and was heading to the parking lot and his car.
Lovelady’s cell phone rang and it was Poldberg.
“You’ve left something in the baggage claim so you better come back,” Poldberg said.
Lovelady went back to baggage claim and started looking around for items he may have left.
“I’m looking around for what I might have left and I thought then that maybe he was just joking with me,” Lovelady said.
Finally, Lovelady found Poldberg, who approached him and said, “Hey, buddy, it’s time.”
“What do you mean it’s time?
“They need you.”
“Who are we talking about?”
“They need you up there.”
“Are you serious?”
At that point, at a loss for words, Lovelady said he started crying and gave Poldberg a hug.
Lovelady got to Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, and addressed the media before Tuesday's game against the Mariners. Later, he made his MLB debut in the eighth inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced, Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana, before getting Jay Bruce on a weak flyout to left.
“Nerves isn’t even the word to describe it,” Lovelady said postgame. “I think what helped me tonight was that before I got out there [bullpen coach] Vance [Wilson] told me, ‘You only get this one time. You only get that one time first-time called up. So take a breath. Look around. Take it in. Just enjoy it.’
“I feel I’m still asleep and I’m going to wake up and I’m still in Omaha. No, this is everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”
Lovelady, the Royals’ No. 16 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, was put on the 40-man roster and will serve in manager Ned Yost’s beleaguered bullpen.
Right-hander Heath Fillmyer also was recalled, while right-hander Kevin McCarthy and left-hander Tim Hill were optioned to Omaha.
Fillmyer nearly made the rotation out of Spring Training. General manager Dayton Moore said throughout camp that the Royals wouldn’t hesitate to add Lovelady to the 40-man roster, even though they don’t have to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft until this fall.
Lovelady has thrown 2 2/3 scoreless innings this season at Omaha, and has been a rising reliever in the system for several years.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.