As a young athlete in Sonoma County, Scott Alexander took great care to polish his shoes and carefully lay out his uniform before games. Now someone will do that for him.
He’s in the big leagues now. Literally.
Alexander, 26, was called up to the Kansas City Royals Tuesday as part of major league teams’ September roster expansions, marking the culmination of years of hard work and dreaming of making it to the bigs.
The hard throwing, 6-foot-2, 190-pound left-handed reliever dressed out for Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to Detroit. He was available, but is still waiting to take the ball for his first major-league pitch.
“You always think that you play for a reason, to get here,” he said from Kaufman Stadium Wednesday morning. “But until it actually happens, you can never fathom the feeling.
“Obviously, I was thrilled and happy, but it wasn’t until I started calling my friends and family and hearing their excitement that I started realizing how big it was.”
Alexander was born in Santa Rosa and starred in Windsor Little League, at Cardinal Newman High School and at Sonoma State before being selected by the Royals in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, the 179th pick overall.
On Sunday night, he got the word from Brian Poldberg, his manager with the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers of the Pacific Coast League, that the Royals wanted him for the playoff drive.
This season in Omaha, Alexander went 3-5 with 14 saves and a 3.39 ERA, striking out 63 batters in 821/3 innings of relief work.
After a short drive, he and another teammate were in Kansas City, stepping foot in a venue considered one of the most beautiful in the majors and with a chance of contributing to the team in a bona-fide pennant chase.
Arriving at the stadium “was everything I expected and more,” Alexander said. “Putting on the pants, the uniform, the hat, walking out to the bullpen, it was a rush.”
He hasn’t been told what role he may play for the Royals, who lost the World Series to the Giants in seven games last year and look to be headed to another American League Central division title this year.
“Whenever it comes, I’ll be prepared,” he said. “I’m trying not to overthink it too much, but try to get as prepared as possible.”
His big moment arrived Wednesday night when he was summoned to pitch the ninth inning of Kansas City’s 12-1 victory over Detroit. Alexander was flawless in his debut, throwing a scoreless inning as he induced two groundouts and struck out Nick Castellanos swinging to end the game. He threw 10 pitches, seven of them for strikes.
The Royals, with an AL-best 81-51 record, are 12 games up on second-place Minnesota in the American League Central race with a month left in the season.
His brother, Stuart — who pitched in the minor leagues with the Miami Marlins system until he was injured — has already joined Alexander in Kansas City and the rest of his family will fly out soon. His parents, Maryann and Richard, hope to see Alexander take the mound this weekend.
Maryann, who works for Sonoma County, screamed when her son shared his big news, and his dad, a baker for Safeway, yelled, “You’re a major leaguer!”