07/30/13 — Living his dream: Brewers' rookie just enjoying the moment

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Living his dream: Brewers' rookie just enjoying the moment

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 30, 2013 1:47 PM


CHICAGO -- Neither a hostile crowd nor the bright lights bothered rookie Rob Wooten when he stepped onto the mound at Coors Field in Colorado last Friday evening.

He felt right at home.

"Once I got on the mound, it was just baseball," Wooten said of his Major League debut with the Milwaukee Brewers against the Rockies. "(The mound) wasn't any closer, wasn't any farther. It just felt right. People say all the time that it's hard to put some things into words and now I finally understand what they mean because it is hard to put into words.

"It's been the greatest weekend you can ever imagine and it's what every baseball player has ever dreamed of. It was definitely emotional."

Wooten learned of his promotion late last Thursday.

The Brewers cleared room for the 27-year-old on the team's 25-man roster by optioning first baseman Sean Holton back to Triple-A Nashville. Wooten threw 21/3 innings of two-hit, scoreless relief at Colorado. He was in the bullpen for Sunday's game, but didn't make an appearance.

Wooten threw the ninth inning in the Brewers' 5-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday evening.

"It's been pretty cool," Wooten said.

Drafted in the 13th round by the Brewers in 2008, Wooten seemed poised to make a fast ascent in the organization. He quickly climbed from Rookie ball to Double-AA Huntsville in 2009, but sustained an injury and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010.

Just 120 games into his minor league career, a disheartened Wooten thought his dream of reaching the Big Show was over.

"I've been rebuilt," Wooten chuckled. "(We've) tweaked a few things here and there, has taken me a couple of years to get healthy. I never gave up and there were many times I thought about it.

"I had so much support behind me and my family. As great as it is for me to get here, it's great for them, too. It's great that they get to share this cool moment with me."

The Brewers invited Wooten to their spring training camp and the Fremont native absorbed as much information as he could. He carried that valuable knowledge with him back to Nashville and stepped onto the mound each outing with confidence the biggest weapon among his arsenal of pitches.

Wooten logged 20 saves and posted a 2.94 earned run average as the Sounds' closer. He was also selected to pitch in the Pacific Coast League All-Star Game.

When Milwaukee's staff discovered it needed to bolster its bullpen for the stretch run, Wooten's name filled numerous conversations. His numbers carried significant weight, but Wooten's work ethic and determination to succeed also spoke volumes.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke made the call.

Wooten has played five seasons in the minors and has been under contract for six. His movement upper the ladder is average for most minor league players, but also quicker than others who have spent 10 or more seasons in hopes of reaching the big leagues.

"I'm not the guy who blows it by you and I throw multiple pitches for strikes," Wooten said. "You have a Major League defense behind you. That's what they're paid to do and it almost makes it even easier to throw strikes. The guys you are playing against are pretty dag-gone good and you have to be good, too, because you are there for a reason.

"You just have to be careful not to beat yourself because baseball is a game set up for failure."

Roenicke hasn't speculated on Wooten's future.

Major League managers usually don't divulge that information because most players determine the outcome of their careers through a myriad of situations on and off the field.

Wooten is just enjoying the moment.

"It's big to have a good first impression on the front office and (coaching) staff," Wooten said. "They make moves all the time and I hope I'm here for the rest of the season. When they do send you back (to the minors), it's part of the business. We'll see what happens.

"I just have to go out there and do my job every single time."