`In shock,' Majewski packs bag of humility for first trip to majors

Bowie outfielder makes leap with `no expectations'

August 20, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Given the chance Wednesday night to brag about himself, Val Majewski froze as if taking a third strike. He couldn't get the bat off his shoulder, couldn't keep his knees from buckling.

Describe himself as a player? Where should he begin?

"I am not going to say I do anything exceptionally well," Majewski said. "I just try to be solid in every part."

Good to know that an unexpected promotion to the Orioles didn't go to his head.

Needing an outfielder to replace Larry Bigbie, who went on the disabled list with a groin injury, the Orioles purchased Majewski's contract from Double-A Bowie and rushed him - literally - to the majors.

He was stretching before a game in Reading, Pa., when told that manager Dave Trembley wanted to see him. In a flash, Majewski was gathering his stuff and dashing to Baltimore.

"I got a ride here from somebody who worked with the Reading Phillies," he said. "I had some problems with a rental car deal, so I got here as soon as I could. I haven't really had a chance to let it sink in because I've been rushing around so much, but I really can't believe it happened. I'm still kind of in shock."

A 57-minute rain delay allowed Majewski to catch most of the Orioles' 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics. He's expected to make some starts in center field, perhaps as soon as tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I was sitting on the bench during the game, realizing where I was and what I was doing. It was a surreal feeling," he said.

"I had no idea this was going to happen."

How could he know?

It isn't often that a player with no Triple-A experience, a player drafted two years ago, ends up dressing in the same clubhouse as Rafael Palmeiro and Miguel Tejada - especially before rosters expand next month.

"I really cannot put into words what it means to be here," he said. "I had no expectations for the end of the year."

His season already has been filled with surprises. Majewski, 23, participated in the Futures Game and the Double-A All-Star Game.

Batting .307 with 15 homers and 80 RBIs at Bowie, he might be chosen the organization's minor league Player of the Year.

"This is definitely the best thing that has happened all year," he said, "regardless of anything that's awarded to me."

The Orioles selected Majewski in the third round out of Rutgers University, after he batted .353 as a senior. He was signed by scout Jim Howard, who also gave the Orioles Erik Bedard and John Parrish.

"Val's got a big league disposition and a tremendous work ethic," said scouting director Tony DeMacio. "He's always had a good swing, and we liked his approach to the game. He's a quality young man. The more you're around him, the more you like him."

The only bumps in Majewski's road to the majors were created by injuries. A stress fracture in his right leg cost him six weeks of the 2003 season, and he returned to the disabled list earlier this year with a strained rib cage muscle.

"My goal was just to try to improve on what I did last year and play my game every day," he said. "This was something that was always in the back of my mind. It's been a dream since I was a little kid. Now that dream actually has a chance to come through."

Majewski's parents were supposed to meet up with him in Bowie this weekend, "but I'm sure they'll be more than happy to come here," he said.

"My dad's always saying that he hasn't gone to a big league game in how many years, and he said the next game he is going to go to in the big leagues is a game I play in. I didn't know how long that would be, but I was laughing when I talked to him, saying that he is going to get to a big league game sooner than he thought."

With the Orioles off yesterday, Majewski spent part of the day making phone calls. Though he's officially on the 25-man roster, he's still reluctant to spread the word.

Frozen by the news, he's caught looking again.

"I haven't told all my friends," he said. "I want to make sure this is real before I start telling anybody."

Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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