Nady has been in Leake's shoes before

Nady has been in Leake's shoes before

CINCINNATI -- On Sunday, Cincinnati's Mike Leake will make his Major League debut. The right-hander will become the 21st player since the First-Year Player Draft began in 1965 to play in the big leagues without appearing in a Minor League game.

Xavier Nady was the 20th.

Nady, now with the Cubs, was the San Diego Padres' second-round pick in the 2000 Draft out of the University of California. That year, he was added to the big league roster on Sept. 17.

"I didn't sign until the end of September," Nady said on Friday. "[The callup] was more to get to know the guys, the front-office people. I was there for a week and got one pinch-hit. I was a nervous wreck."

As Nady tells it, he was "back where I belonged the next year in [Class] A ball." He spent the 2001 and '02 seasons in the Minor Leagues.

"At least [Leake] made the team and deserved it. That's pretty impressive. I was more of a courtesy callup for a week."

The quick promotion caught him off guard.

"I wasn't doing a whole lot, and I was waiting and didn't think I was going to sign until later and, boom, we came to terms and they flew me down to San Diego," Nady said. "They asked some of the older guys if they were OK with it, and everyone was fine."

The Padres added so many players in September that year that they built makeshift lockers out of wood and installed some of them in the trainer's room.

"I tried to keep my mouth shut and I got the one at-bat," he said of his lone appearance on Sept. 30 as a pinch-hitter against the Dodgers. "I was so nervous, I couldn't see the first two pitches."

What happened?

"I got a single up the middle," he said. "It was a dream come true -- you work your whole life and then you're there. One of the best parts of the situation is I got a hit and you're overwhelmed, you're standing at first base and the next guy, Damian Jackson, hits a double off the left-field wall and I've got to score from first. I'd sat around for a week -- and I got waved home. I had to slide home. I didn't get to really enjoy the moment."

Of course, the veterans on the Padres reminded Nady it isn't that easy to hit in the big leagues, but that big league single is in his career stats, right before he was assigned to Class A Lake Elsinore.

"I remember running around those bases saying, 'Wow,'" Nady said. "[And thinking], 'Now you have to get back.'"