Scales finally makes big leagues

Updated: May 6, 2009, 9:26 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Bobby Scales' road to the big leagues started in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in 1999, in the rookie-level Pioneer League. The road led through Fort Wayne, Ind.; Lake Elsinore, Calif.; Mobile, Ala.; Portland, Ore.; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Pawtucket, R.I.; and Des Moines, Iowa.

On Sunday, after 11 seasons of bus rides through the minors, Scales finally made The Show when the Chicago Cubs called up the utility infielder and added him to the roster, replacing injured right-hander Carlos Zambrano. He was given No. 24 and had yet to make a plate appearance entering Tuesday's games.

''It's everything you hope for when you play professional baseball,'' Scales said, according to Chicago-area media reports. ''Some of us late bloomers have to wait longer than others, but I made it.''

A native of Southfield, Mich., Scales has been making ends meet as a substitute teacher during the offseason near his home in Alpharetta, Ga., MLB.com reported. As the seasons in the minors passed, he still thought about his dream, but learned to temper his expectations.

[+] EnlargeBobby Scales
AP Photo/Jeff ChiuBobby Scales, seen here in a 2009 spring training game, was called up Sunday after 11 years in the minors.

"As you get a little older, you try not to think about it because you don't want to go there mentally and be disappointed," he said, according to MLB.com. "You think about it from time to time but you bury it in the back of your mind. Fortunately, today's here for me today, and I'm happy to be here."

Scales, 31, who signed with the Cubs as a minor league free agent in winter 2007, had his best minor league season in 2008 for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, hitting .320 with 15 home runs, 94 runs scored, and 59 runs batted in. He was batting .303 in 21 games this season at Iowa when he finally got the call.

Scales almost had his first call-up on Thursday, when it was believed Aramis Ramirez might need to go on the disabled list. But when that didn't happen, Scales was sent back to Iowa, the Chicago Tribune reported. Scales said the team was forthright with him about the possibility that he might not be activated during that first call-up.

"I appreciate that," he said, according to the Tribune. "You wait this long for it, you don't want to be disappointed."

But Scales never lost faith that he'd make a major league roster someday. "It may sound hokey, but I knew, deep down in the depths of my soul, I could play this game," he said.

The Cubs had been making do with a short bench for weeks. But manager Lou Piniella was glad to see Scales arrive for reasons that have nothing to do with the game.

''I'm happy he's here because this young man has endured a long time in the minors,'' Piniella said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. ''It's a real nice story. He deserves it. He was a lot better this spring than last spring. Let's hope he does well.''

Scales said he got a good reception when he finally arrived.

"I just felt comfortable with everything throughout the organization here,'' Scales said, according to the Sun-Times. ''Everyone was welcoming and wanted you to do well. I know nothing is promised. If I go back, I go back. If I stay, I stay.''

It could be a short trip to Chicago for Scales; the Cubs are expected to recall pitcher Randy Wells from Iowa on Friday to take Zambrano's place in the rotation, meaning someone would have to go back down.

Then again, the way this story has played out, it seems anything is possible.

''A lot of options can happen before Friday,'' Cubs GM Jim Hendry said, according to the Sun-Times. ''I'm really happy for Bobby. He's a unique story.''