CINCINNATI -- Hernan Perez got the call to the Major Leagues around 9:15 a.m. on Saturday and thought it was a practical joke. Guys playing at Class A Lakeland don't get called up to the big leagues.
"I said, 'Really? I don't believe it,'" he said.
Sometime between the call and the 11:15 a.m. flight he had to catch in Orlando, Fla., about an hour away, he realized they were serious and got packing to replace Jhonny Peralta, who had gone on paternity leave.
He had to connect in Atlanta, then had to count on some deft driving from one of the visiting clubhouse personnel from Great American Ball Park to get him in from the airport. But he arrived shortly before game time.
By the seventh inning, the 21-year-old second-base prospect was making his big league debut as a pinch-hitter. He was still in awe after the game.
In fact, for his first Major League game as a player, he sounded more like a fan.
"For me, my first big league game, I saw [Justin] Verlander pitch, [Jose] Valverde closing, Prince [Fielder] homer. I'll never forget it," Perez said.
In the ninth inning of Sunday's 7-6 victory, Perez beat out an infield single to third for his first Major League hit. He was optioned back to Class A Lakeland after the game to make room for Peralta's return Tuesday.