ARLINGTON -- To say Jesse Carlson's past 48 hours were a bit hectic would be a grand understatement. The rookie left-hander was summoned into his manager's office at Triple-A Syracuse late Wednesday night, when he heard the greatest news a player can: He was being called up to the Major Leagues. Thursday morning brought the frantic bustle of travel for the 27-year-old, who was a non-roster invitee to the Jays' spring camp. This year is Carlson's second time around with the Jays, who also signed him for the 2005 season but never called him up past Syracuse.
"He was a solid pitcher then," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But it seems like he's gotten better." All Carlson knew was that six years in the Minor Leagues had been unable to produce the big opportunity. So he was naturally beaming by the time he reached the Rogers Centre at about 1 p.m. ET. Carlson barely had time to break in his new Jays cap before he found himself on alert as Thursday's game against Oakland barreled into extra innings. "I was definitely wanting to get the first one under my belt," Carlson said. "I was telling Downsie [fellow reliever Scott Downs] that sooner would be better to get my feet wet. I was very anxious to do that." Finally in the top of the 12th, Gibbons summoned Carlson to face Oakland first baseman Daric Barton. The bases were loaded with two outs, and the Jays were trailing by two runs with the game on the line. Carlson struck out Barton on three pitches to end the inning. The Jays' rally in the bottom of the 12th came up one run short, but Carlson had acquitted himself well in his Major League debut. "It felt good," said Carlson, originally a 15th-round Draft pick of Detroit in 1992. "I came into a tough situation, but I did my job and gave us a chance to come back in the bottom of the 12th." The reality of the big league grind came next. Sometimes you lose a heartbreaker in extra innings, then are faced with a long overnight flight from Ontario to North Texas, arriving at your hotel at about 6 a.m. ET -- and you're expected to be rested and ready to start all over again that same night. "I tried to get some sleep on the plane," Carlson said Friday in the visiting clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "But Downs wouldn't let me. He kept nudging me. But I got enough rest and I'm ready to go again." The smile said it all. Welcome to the big leagues.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.