He waited 13 years for the call, so it felt nothing short of miraculous when 51s first baseman John Lindsey learned he was being promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas this season.
“It was awesome,” said the 30-year-old Lindsey, who joined the 51s on June 11 after hitting .286 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 56 games for Double-A Jacksonville. “I actually had some shoulder and back pain, but it seems like as soon as (manager John Shoemaker) told me, my body just got renewed.
“I had a big old smile on my face, and I don’t know what happened to my back pain. It was almost like getting called up to the big leagues.”
Lindsey might get that call from the Los Angeles Dodgers if he continues to tear up Triple-A pitching.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 230-pounder is batting .337 with 19 homers and 75 RBIs in 68 games with Las Vegas, and the soft-spoken slugger is on the Dodgers’ radar.
“He’s got a chance,” Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti said. “He’s obviously bucking the odds at this stage, at 30 years old, but he’s probably got a better chance today than he’s ever had in his whole career.
“He’s been able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time, and it’s tough to find a better human being than John.”
Lindsey, who has set career highs with his combined totals for homers (30) and RBIs (108) this season after spending last year in the independent Can-Am league, compared the possibility of getting called up to the big leagues to the birth of his son, John III, on June 6.
“I can’t put it in front of my son, but, no offense to my wife (Christa), that would probably be the second-greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life, after 13 years of grinding it out,” he said. “As much as she has supported me, it would probably be her second-best day, too. She’s been through all the smiles and the cries.”
Las Vegas manager Lorenzo Bundy said everybody’s rooting for “Big John” to make it.
“He’s a very likable and very humble young man. It’s hard not to be a John Lindsey fan,” Bundy said. “Teammate-wise, everybody loves him. We’ve got a real nice story going on here.”
The Colorado Rockies selected Lindsey, who hails from Hattiesburg, Miss., in the 13th round of the 1995 draft. He signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2002, and after eight years of Class-A ball, Lindsey moved up to Double A in 2003.
Despite enjoying two productive seasons at that level, Lindsey was let go after the 2004 campaign, in which he hit .282 with 19 homers and 72 RBIs. He signed with St. Louis in 2005 but didn’t make the team out of spring training.
“That was a hard one to swallow, that day they called me into the office and said I’m not going to make the club,” he said. “I get sick to my stomach thinking about it, but I went to independent ball, and it really gave me a little fire.”
Lindsey, who singled in the eighth inning on Saturday to tie his season-high 13-game hitting streak, said he’ll continue to pursue his dream until “they take the jersey off me.”
• NOTE — 51s third baseman Andy LaRoche was activated from the disabled list, and catcher Octavio Martinez was placed on the DL.Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS — 5TUCSON — 4
KEY: Marshall McDougall drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded infield single with two outs in the 12th inning to rescue the 51s, who squandered a 4-1 lead in the ninth.
NEXT: Sidewinders (Greg Smith) at 51s (Eric Cyr), 12:05 p.m. today