Scales finally gets call to big leagues

Scales finally gets call to big leagues

CHICAGO -- After 1,013 games, 3,303 at-bats, 942 hits and stops in Fort Wayne, Lake Elsinore, Portland, Mobile, Scranton, Pawtucket and Des Moines, Bobby Scales is finally in the big leagues.

Scales, 31, was called up to the Major Leagues on Monday to take Carlos Zambrano's spot on the Cubs' 25-man roster after the pitcher was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Scales gives the Cubs a backup infielder; they don't need another starter until Friday, when Randy Wells is expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa.

Scales' time with the big league team may be limited -- Tuesday's game against the Giants will be Day 2 for him -- and he's going to make the most of it.

"I'm happy he's here for a couple reasons," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "The biggest is because this man has endured for a long, long time in the Minor Leagues. He's getting an opportunity here after 10, 11 years. It's a really, really nice story. He's earned it. He came to camp and worked hard. He contributed."

Scales was batting .303 at Iowa with three homers and 10 RBIs in 21 games. He can play second, short, third, wherever the Cubs need him.

"Now I don't have to be looking for a pitcher to pinch-run," Piniella said.

Scales was in Chicago last Monday just in case the Cubs decided to put Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list. Ramirez was determined good to go, and Scales went back to Iowa. He didn't tell his parents about the trip -- he called it a "pump fake" -- but word got around quickly about this callup.

"This is everything you hope for when you get a chance to play professional baseball," Scales said. "Some of us late bloomers have to wait longer than others, but I made it and that's half the battle."

He's gone through the scenario of his first big league callup several times.

"As you get a little older, you try not to think about it because you don't want to go there mentally and be disappointed," he said. "You think about it from time to time but you bury it in the back of your mind. Fortunately, today's here for me today, and I'm happy to be here."

Being a Minor League lifer means Scales can't rely solely on his baseball career for his income. In the offseason, he's a substitute teacher near his home of Alpharetta, Ga. Right now, he can enjoy big league meal money.

"He's the kind of guy you root for," Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said. "He's paid his dues, he's rode the buses, he's made all the 4 o'clock wake-up calls in the [Pacific Coast League] and grinded it out and never said never. He's a great example to all the kids out there. When you get an opportunity, make somebody rip your jersey off before you quit."

Scales had a chance to go to another team. He was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1999 and has played in Baltimore's organization as well as Boston's. He could've signed elsewhere after last year because he was a Minor League free agent, but chose to stay with the Cubs.

"We told him, 'You did your part and we'll do our part,'" Fleita said.

"I just had a good feeling about coming back here," Scales said of the Cubs. "Everybody can't say that about every organization they've played for."

He most likely won't start. Ramirez was back in the Cubs' lineup Monday against the San Francisco Giants.

"I could be cool and say I'll be normal tonight, but I'd be lying," Scales said before Monday's game. "I'll probably be a little keyed up more than normal."

Why did he stay with it this long?

"A lot of different things," Scales said. "From the baseball side of it, just a belief I could play. It may sound hokey but I knew in the depths of my soul that I could play this game. I felt I could help a big league team win games in whatever capacity that a manager saw fit to use me. I knew that. That's part of it and the support I got from my family. My wife, my mom and dad have been unbelievable.

"There's a lot of people doing a lot worse than Minor League baseball players. It's tough sometimes to make ends meet. It's harder on your family because you're gone a lot, and there's not money to fly home on off-days. I just had the belief I could play here."

Pitching matchup
CHC: LHP Sean Marshall (0-1, 3.32 ERA)
Marshall was in line for a win in his last start against the Marlins. The lefty held the Fish to one run on six hits over seven innings, striking out six. But Florida rallied and won in extra innings. Marshall has struck out 15 over 18 innings in his last three starts. He pitched two innings in relief last year against the Giants and is 1-2 with a 7.79 ERA in four games in his career.

SF: RHP Tim Lincecum (2-1, 3.16 ERA)
Lincecum has tried to put his National League Cy Young Award-winning season behind him, insisting that it's a new season. Yet he keeps providing reminders of 2008 with his performance. Since going 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA in his first two starts, Lincecum's 2-0 in three starts with a 1.57 ERA. He also has walked four and struck out 33 in 23 innings over that span. Lincecum had one of his best starts last year at Wrigley Field on July 13, when he allowed one run, walked one and struck out nine in eight innings while hitting an RBI triple in a 4-2 Giants victory.

The Cubs have scored at least four runs in each of their 14 wins. ... Shortstop Ryan Theriot and left fielder Alfonso Soriano are the only Cubs to have played in all 25 games. ... Reliever Luis Vizcaino was released by the Cubs. He had been designated for assignment April 23. ... Ryan Searle gave up one run on two hits over five innings Sunday in Class A Daytona's 7-4 win over Clearwater. Robinson Chirinos and Starlin Castro each homered. ... Chris Carpenter gave up one hit over six scoreless innings Sunday in Class A Peoria's 2-1, 11-inning loss to Cedar Rapids. Carpenter struck out eight. Josh Vitters had two hits and was batting .385 in his last three games.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Cubs (Rich Harden, 2-1, 5.11) at Astros (Mike Hampton, 1-2, 4.88), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Cubs (Ted Lilly, 3-2, 3.13) at Astros (Russ Ortiz, 2-0, 5.21), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, 3-1, 4.50) at Brewers (Dave Bush, 1-0, 4.36), 7:05 p.m. CT

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.