Hopefully this hasn't already been posted...
SARASOTA, Fla. -- There are many different roads to the big leagues. But has anybody out there ever heard of this one?
A guy making a team in spring training after not even being invited to spring training?
This hasn't quite happened yet. But it could -- to former Twin/Padre/Met/Colorado Springs Sky Sox Brian "Buck" Buchanan. Who was last seen hitting a scenic .538 (21 for 38) in a Reds camp he was never supposed to be a part of.
Is this a great country, or what?
I dug up this major spring-training blockbuster Tuesday on a visit to the Reds' spring abode, when GM Wayne Krivsky posed the question we started this blog with:
Has a player ever made a team in spring training even though nobody actually invited him to spring training?
OK, I'll admit it's a question that's also a slight exaggeration of Buchanan's real story this spring. After all, it's not as if the guy broke into the clubhouse when nobody was looking, stole a uniform and then went out and batted .600.
In reality, he was invited to spring training.
Just not big league spring training.
But now, depending on how the final roster decisions break, he might even make the team. Beautiful. But how would we describe him?
In any spring-training camp, you have your regulars. You have your utility guys. You have your rookies. You have your prospects. You have your non-roster guys. You have your spring "invitees."
And then there's Brian Buchanan. He's, well, what? A non-non-roster guy? A spring un-invitee?
All the GM knows is, "It's got to be the most hits ever in spring training by a guy who was not invited to camp."
Heck, even the Elias Sports Bureau doesn't keep that record. But it sure sounds like a record.
So how did this happen? Another good question.
Buchanan didn't play in the big leagues at all last year, splitting the season between the Rockies' and Twins' Triple-A clubs. Then nobody signed him all winter.
So it wasn't until after Krivsky had already arrived in spring training that he got a call from Buchanan himself, asking for a chance.
Krivsky, who knew Buchanan from their days together with the Twins, said: "Buck, I've got 62 players coming to camp. So I can't get you an invite -- not this late."
But Buchanan said he didn't care. So he took a bare-bones minor-league deal, showed up in minor-league camp and figured that's where he'd spend his spring.
A couple of days later, though, manager Jerry Narron told Krivsky, "I could use a right-handed bat" to fill out his roster for the third exhibition game of the spring. So Buchanan turned out to be that bat.
That should have been that. Except Buchanan smoked an RBI double that day. So he got another chance. And got another hit. And then another. And another.
"And a week later," Krivsky said, "I realized I kept seeing Buck every day. I said, 'Hey, Buck. I'd better check your contract. Where does it say you got a big league invite?' "
Buchanan just laughed. And "the next thing I knew," Krivsky said, "he was 20 for 33."
But after all this, Buchanan still doesn't have a locker -- not in the major league clubhouse, anyway. And Narron has been joking that if Buchanan makes the team, he'll have to dress in a side office in Cincinnati.
"Heck," Krivsky chuckled. "If he keeps going like this, he can have my office."