The Omaha Storm Chasers will board a plane tomorrow morning, April 13, at 6:00 a.m., bound for Albuquerque to begin an eight day, eight game road trip. But their starting centerfielder, Jarrod Dyson, will not be on that flight.
Instead, he is headed for Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
The Kansas City Royals promoted Dyson to the big leagues Thursday, April 12 after placing Lorenzo Cain on the 15-day DL with a left groin strain. Cain made contact with the outfield wall on Tuesday in Oakland on a fly ball hit by Oakland A's first baseman Daric Barton.
"It's part of the game," Dyson said on the Storm Chasers' pre-game radio show with Mark Nasser. "Everybody wishes he didn't have the injury, but you know, things happen in baseball when you're going hard. I've just got to go in there, fill in for him and hopefully get the job done."
The promotion doesn't mean automatic playing time for Dyson, but it does mean he will be in Kansas City in time for the Royals' home opener on Friday afternoon against the Cleveland Indians.
"It's huge," Dyson told Nasser. "Opening Day is an experience you can't describe or put into words. You've just got to be there. You know, the shock that goes through your body when you are standing there and they are cheering your name as they show your big face on the Jumbotron -- it's just an awesome feeling."
Dyson, 27, appeared in Omaha's first seven games this season, hitting .364 with a .400 OBP, and he led the Pacific Coast League (PCL) with six stolen bases. He hit .279 in 2011 for the Storm Chasers in 83 games, swiping 38 bags. He hit just .205 for Kansas City last season in 26 games.
It looked like Dyson was positioned to be the fifth outfielder for Kansas City in Spring Training, but the Royals made a trade with the Houston Astros for catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois and that moved Dyson out of the picture.
"I just looked at it as more of a competition," Dyson said. "Nothing is ever given to you. You've got to earn it out here and that's the way I want it … you know, when they made the trade and got Bourgeois, I kind of knew that I was going to go back to Triple-A, so I really wasn't bitter about it. He's a right-handed bat coming off the bench and I would have been just another lefty up there with Mitch Maier. I think that was a great trade for them."
He also knows he hasn't made the most of the opportunities he's been given by the Royals.
"It's my own fault," Dyson said. "That's how I looked at it. If I had taken care of business in previous years, then I wouldn't have to worry about the trade or anything like that."
I spoke to Omaha manager Mike Jirschele about Dyson's progress after the Storm Chasers defeated Round Rock, 5-4, on Thursday night in Omaha.
"He's definitely been working on trying to keep the ball out of the air," Jirschele said about the speedster. "He's done a good job with that, getting his bunts down. Defensively, of course, he can go and get balls out there. He can play solid defense -- it's just working on throwing the ball to the right base. A couple of times while he was here [this season], he tried to get the lead runner and should have kept the other runner at first base.
"I think he understands where he's at in his career and what he needs to do to get there and stay there [the big leagues]. Hopefully, when he gets there he can do some things."
Photo: Minda Haas