After a journey that has taken him just about everywhere in the last 14 years as a pro baseball player, Scott Rice is finally going to get his chance to pitch in the big leagues.
The former York Revolution left-handed reliever will be in the New York Mets' bullpen on Opening Day next Monday when the Mets host the San Diego Padres at 1:10 p.m.
Rice was informed of this after Friday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he tossed a scoreless inning.
"I had a couple inklings earlier in the day. Before the game people were asking me weird questions," Rice said. "I pitched in the game today and after the game the pitching coach (Dan Warthen) and manager Terrry Collins called me into the office and they let me know."
Considered a long shot to start the 2013 season on the Mets' big league roster, Rice beat out three relievers, including two with major league experience, for the final spot in the Mets' bullpen. Rice did so by posting a 3.18 ERA in 10 spring training appearances, holding opponents scoreless in eight of them, including his last four games (4.2 innings).
When Rice, 31, does pitch for the Mets in the regular season, he will become the fourth former Revolution player to make it to the big leagues - and the very first to debut in the majors - after playing for York.
"It's been a long time coming," Rice said. "It feels pretty good."
Rice made those comments by phone shortly before 10 p.m. Friday, following a three-hour bus ride from Port St. Lucie to Sarasota, where he'll fly out of Saturday after the Mets' spring training game to head to New York.
"It's funny. I was drafted by the Orioles in 1999 and Sarasota was first place I went to," he said. "Now I'm flying out of Sarasota to go the big leagues 14 years later."
It will mark Rice's big league debut after having pitched in the minors in five different farm systems since 1999, when Baltimore drafted him in the first round.
Rice first came to the Atlantic League in 2008, making just seven appearances for the Long Island Ducks. He returned to the Atlantic League in 2009 with the Newark Bears and would get picked up by the San Diego Padres.
Contemplating walking away from the game following that season, Rice then got an invite to the Colorado Rockies' minor league camp in 2010 and earned a spot on their Class AA Tulsa team, where he posted a 0.96 ERA in 35 appearances to earn a promotion to Class AAA Colorado Springs.
Rice found himself in York in 2011 and went on to compile a 2.45 ERA in 15 games for the Revs before getting picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers and assigned to Class AA Chattanooga, where he went 4-4 with a 1.95 ERA in 34 games.
Last season, the 6-foot, 6-inch lefty had a 4.40 ERA in 54 appearances with the Dodgers' Class AAA Albuquerque affiliate.
Despite his recent success, Rice still hasn't forgotten about those who helped him during his time in York two years ago.
"Could you give a shout-out to Mark Lawson?" he said. "He was my host family when I played in York. He and his family made my stay in York really amazing."
--Reach John Walk at email@example.com.