Monday Callup Day for Three Rainiers

Today, Sept. 6, 2004, is a day Jeremy Reed, Greg Dobbs and Mickey Lopez won't soon forget; all three members of the Tacoma Rainiers were called up from Triple-A by the Seattle Mariners on Monday. It'll be the first trip to the big leagues for each of the three.

For Jeremy Reed, 23, the top prospect who came over from Chicago in the Freddy Garcia trade in late June, the promotion means getting a chance to showcase his abilities on the grand stage for the final month of the MLB season.

For Greg Dobbs, 26, who missed virtually all of 2003 with a torn Achilles heal and began this season at Double-A, it means getting an early audition for next year's starting third base job.

For Mickey Lopez, 30, a 10-year minor league veteran and the Rainiers team MVP in 2003, it means living out a dream he has been chasing for a lifetime.

Following Tacoma's afternoon game on Monday, the trio headed north in time to be in uniform for the Mariners home game with Cleveland. Before they left, though, had a chance to talk to each.

Reed, who in 233 at bats with the Rainiers hit.305 with five homers, five triples, 10 doubles and 14 stolen bases, said he and Dobbs got the news at the same time on Sunday from Tacoma manager Dan Rohn.

In the minds of those close to the M's minor league system, it seemed like a no-brainer that Reed would get a September callup. But was he expecting it, you might ask?

"In the situation where you aren't playing the last three days, it's an indication that something might happen. It's an unbelievable feeling," said Reed, who was held out in each of the Rainiers final three games after the team was eliminated from the playoff picture.

Reed said that no matter how the Mariners use him, whether it's in center field or somewhere else, he's just excited to get the opportunity.

"It doesn't matter to me, as long as I'm up there playing," said the sweet-hitting outfielder. "It doesn't matter. I wouldn't even say I really want to play center. Wherever they want to play me, that's where I want to be."

Dobbs, meanwhile, as humble and grateful of a ballplayer as there is in the Mariners' organization, appeared to be numbed by the news. While a smile was draped on his face in the clubhouse after the game, the news hadn't entirely set in yet. The third baseman, who hit .271 with 19 extra bases in Tacoma after a midseason callup from San Antonio, said "everything just kind worked out."

He then continued, showing more raw emotion in the process.

"This is definitely a dream come true to get to this level," he said. "Everyone is playing this game to get to that level. I just hope I make the organization proud."

Dobbs will have an old friend, fellow third baseman Justin Leone, along side him in the clubhouse for the rest of the season. Leone, who is out for the remainder of the season after breaking several fingers in August, played with Dobbs in both Double-A and Triple-A. Last season, in fact, it was Leone who filled in at third base for San Antonio when Dobbs went down, going on to win the Mariners' minor league player of the year award.

"There's been so much made about him and I and the competition, but we're just playing the game," said Dobbs. "When he was up (in Seattle) I was rooting for him. I thought it was awesome, because I know him personally and I see him as a friend. When I'm up there I'm sure he'll be rooting for me too. I'm sure I'll see him in the clubhouse and it'll be great. It'll be like old times when we played together."

Lopez learned of his promotion after the Reed and Dobbs, getting the news he'd been waiting to hear during his whole career.

"After all the years of getting let down and really wanting that callup... I was hoping for it this year but if it didn't happen I knew I'd just have to battle again next year," said a relieved Lopez, who batted .286 with 10 homers and 13 steals for Tacoma. "It's extremely exciting."

Over the years, Lopez has conditioned himself to avoid getting his hopes up for a September callup. Even during standout seasons like 2003, his name hadn't ever been called on before Monday.

"When you get let down that hard, and then when you get (called up), you're totally elated," said Lopez. "A lot of the guys were happy for me because they know how long I've been waiting.

"You only have a small opportunity to play this game. If you can still play at 30, you keep going. If you can't, you hang them up and go do something else.

Lopez's hard work finally paid off on Monday, ending with a pinch-running opportunity in the 9th inning at Safeco Field, just the perfect way to end the perfect day.

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