Padres call up Macias, Ekstrom
Outfielder, right-hander report prior to Saturday night's game
MILWAUKEE -- The 2008 San Diego Padres are looking more and more like the 2007 San Antonio Missions.
San Diego recalled outfielder Drew Macias and right-handed pitcher Mike Ekstrom from Double-A San Antonio before Saturday night's game with the Brewers. Ekstrom and Macias counted 10 familiar faces in the Padres' clubhouse, teammates from last season in Double-A. This year's Missions were swept out of the Texas League playoffs on Friday.
Macias had a cup of coffee with the big league club in the final week of the 2007 season. The stint left him feeling like Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, made famous from the movie "Field of Dreams." Like Graham, Macias did not get an at-bat. He pinch-ran and scored once.
"Coming up last year and getting a taste of it, I wanted more," Macias said. "I wasn't satisfied with the seven days I got last year. It's great to be back."
Macias, a 35th-round pick in 2003, hit .288 with 18 steals in Double-A this season. He will provide depth in the San Diego outfield, with Jody Gerut still sidelined.
"Drew had a very, very solid year in Double-A," Padres manager Bud Black said. "His name was talked about as a guy who made a lot of improvement this year, offensively. He's a good all-around player, a good defender, stole some bases this year, and his at-bats improved tremendously."
Ekstrom, 25, could become the 14th player to make his Major League debut for San Diego this season, two shy of the club record set in 2002. While Macias had an inkling he would be recalled, the news caught Ekstrom off-guard.
"I was pretty surprised and pretty excited; I didn't see it coming at all," Ekstrom said. "I figured somebody from the bullpen [would be promoted], because we were all having good years. I just figured it would be somebody else."
The right-hander earned the club's 2006 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award as a starter, but switched to the bullpen after accumulating a 5.86 ERA in April and a 9.68 ERA in May.
"I was terrible, awful," said Ekstrom, who had performed better as a spot starter recently, but will resume his relief work this month. "Then they put me in the 'pen and something clicked, and I started having success."
Ekstrom improved with a 2.34 ERA in 20 second-half appearances. That caught the eye of general manager Kevin Towers, as well as other front-office honchos.
"He's a guy that has been on a number of people's radar," Black said. "During the season, they noticed his relief numbers were really solid. They seemed to think his stuff picked up when he pitched in shorter spurts as a reliever."
Upon being told of his callup, Ekstrom made sure to tell his family before taking an early-morning flight from San Antonio to Milwaukee. The word got out, and now he's getting calls from everyone. His grandparents live in San Diego, and his mother was also born and raised there. That'll make Monday's game against Los Angeles at PETCO Park a family reunion.
"They've already got the plans," Ekstrom said.
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.