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Kazmar's big callup a whirlwind

Kazmar's big callup a whirlwind

SAN DIEGO -- Sitting in Bill Masse's office, Sean Kazmar knew something was up. Usually, when the Double-A San Antonio manager called him in, it was to tell him something. So he sat and waited.

"When he called me in there, it was one of those things where I was sitting there and he was talking to me, but it still never really crossed my mind," Kazmar said. "But then he said it, and I can honestly tell you that I don't remember the next five minutes."

The five minutes were up, and the info had been delivered. Now, he had to tell all his teammates.

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"Some of them might have been more excited than I was," Kazmar said.

Then he paused and realized what exactly he had just said.

"I'm probably lying when I say that, because I was pretty excited," he said to clear things up. "But the guys were just so happy for me."

He gave all his teammates hugs and said goodbye. It was a team he enjoyed playing for and teammates he enjoyed playing with. There was a real camaraderie on the team, and he was going to miss it.

But Kazmar was off to the next stage in his baseball journey. Four years of toiling in the Minor Leagues, and he had finally been called up to the big leagues.

"It was definitely overwhelming," Kazmar said. "It was a big surprise. It was one of those things where, when it came down to it, and I actually got to my apartment and thought about it, I was very happy that all my hard work was paying off."

Next stop, the San Diego Padres clubhouse.

It was Aug. 12 and written in black magic marker, a new name was on the top of the locker between Brian Giles and Bryan Corey.

"When I first walked into the clubhouse and saw my jersey hanging up, and it said No. 7 with Kazmar on it," Kazmar said. "That's what we all dream for, and that's why we all play this game, to get to this point."

He had arrived with the Padres as the new fresh-faced shortstop to join the platoon of middle infielders that already included Luis Rodriguez, Edgar Gonzalez and Tadahito Iguchi.

What got him to this point is the feeling among the Padres' top Minor League people that he was the best defensive shortstop in the system and that he was ready to come up and help them.

He got into the routine early, taking batting practice with his new teammates and fielding ground balls. The game started and he observed from inside the Padres dugout as they faced the Milwaukee Brewers.

The game had concluded and Kazmar was standing in front of his locker, his first day as a Padre under his belt. San Diego manager Bud Black walked by and gave him some news.

"Hey, you're starting tomorrow."

On his second day in the Majors, Kazmar was going to take the field as the starting shortstop.

For a rookie to find out he's starting, and for that start to be against the Brewers and their ace, CC Sabathia, it's kind of a big deal.

"It's great to get an opportunity like this," Kazmar said. "It's one thing to get called up, and then it's another to actually start. It's a dream come true, and I just want to go out there and prove myself and have fun and try not to change too much. Just play as hard as I can."

"Why not throw him in the fire?" Black said.

So on Day 2, Kazmar took the field as a San Diego Padre for the first time. And in the first inning, he fielded a ground ball off the bat of the Brewers' J.J. Hardy and threw him out.

In the second inning, he went to the plate for the first time. Sabathia threw him a fastball. He was sitting on a fastball. He got his first hit, a two-out single to left.

"Kaz has been fine," Black said. "He's been all right. He just played the one game against Sabathia, got a knock and made the plays in the field. He's getting an opportunity to show what he can do, and that's a good thing."

His first game was in the books.

"I thought it went pretty well," Kazmar said. "The nerves were definitely there. I was glad to get that first ground ball out of the way in the first inning. I was fortunate enough to get a hit in my first at-bat, so overall, I think it went pretty well. I've got a lot to learn, still. I just want to come out and play as hard as I can every day."

He was substituted for in the fifth inning and he wishes the Padres could have gotten the win, but the Padres lost, 7-1. But it didn't take away from what he had just gone through. He had started his first Major League Baseball game.

"I've just got to come back tomorrow and go from there," Kazmar said.

Ronald P. Clark is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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