Photo: Casey Crosby dishes toward the plate in his major league debut on Friday in a 9-4 loss to the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in Detroit. Crosby becomes the first Kaneland High School athlete to make the major leagues. Yankee Derek Jeter was the first hitter he faced on Friday. Mark Cunningham/Detroit Tigers
Former Knight lefty officially becomes current Tiger southpaw
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Never has a pitching appearance that lasted 3.1 innings been so noteworthy or celebrated.
Elburn and the surrounding area will forever remember the name Doug Fister, as it was his left side strain that forced the Detroit Tigers to sideline him last week with a 15-day disabled list stint. The club then called up Kaneland High School Class of 2007 member Casey Crosby on May 30.
“I felt like I was going to black out. I was all excited and couldn’t stand still.”
– Detroit Tiger Casey Crosby, on receiving the news of promotion to Major League Baseball last week.
Crosby, the 181st player selected in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, received the call from the Tigers to go up to “The Show” and made his first start on Friday, nearly five years to the day he was selected by the Tigers.
Crosby recalled the details of the whirlwind week by phone at Comerica Park on Tuesday.
“They called around 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time and I was in Rochester (N.Y.),” Crosby said. “There is no explanation or way to prepare yourself. I felt like I was going to black out. I was all excited and I couldn’t stand still.”
Crosby’s first start was a national television broadcast done by Bob Costas and John Smoltz.
It was only against the New York Yankees.
While Crosby was replaced in the fourth inning of his major league debut, the southpaw is up with the big club and ready to help the Tigers in their American League Central division race.
“When I got into the locker room I saw (pitchers) Drew Smyly, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, and they said congrats.”
Crosby now serves manager Jim Leyland on the mound and was at ease when dealing with his tactics and his clubhouse.
“He’s definitely a player’s manager,” Crosby said. “He likes it loose in there, not tight. He talks with everyone before the game.”
While he flummoxed hitters like Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez on changeups, he fell victim to a bases-on-balls epidemic and surrendered a grand slam to Granderson, falling behind 5-1 in the second inning en route to getting tagged with the loss.
Going into the game, Crosby was able to have a degree of comfort due to a lineup switch.
“(Casey) is a humble kid who has come a long way.”
– KHS baseball coach Brian Aversa
“Omir Santos was the catcher that night and he caught me in Toledo (Class AAA), so he was familiar with me, and we were able to talk about what we would do,” Crosby said.
Crosby was prepared to go into Friday’s start for battle, regardless of the intimidating nature of the AL East powerhouse lineup.
“I knew entering in that it’s a big league linup and it’ll be tough. You just go in there and they are like any other hitters and you can get them out. You just try to make it through,” Crosby said.
Crosby had plenty of well-wishers that not only made a short trip to Comerica Park, but from here, as well.
“I felt like a little kid. (Casey) is a humble kid who has come a long way,” KHS baseball coach Brian Aversa said.
Aversa was able to be at the helm for Crosby’s senior season on the diamond in 2007. He was just one of approximately 25 people of a group that included family, friends, coaches and teammates like Jake Razo.
“It was so cool to see, and it’s all up to him now if he performs well. He’s shown he can pitch at this level,” Aversa said.
Crosby knows the sheer odds he had to wade through to get to Detroit. He plans to bounce back after taking the loss on Friday.
“You’ve seen the stats on players that make it to the majors after being drafted. It’s definitely cool to know you’re one that made it. You know how to succeed and you know how fail once you pitch on this level. You don’t dwell on it and you move on and that the experience is for the better.
Crosby is scheduled to face the visiting Cleveland Indians on Thursday, June 7.
• Crosby’s Tigers jersey No. 45 was most recently worn by Ryan Perry, Aquilino Lopez, Alexis Gomez and Lino Urdaneta.
• As of Friday, Crosby becomes the 12th player from the fifth round of the 2007 draft to make the majors, which includes Cardinals pitcher Mark Rzepczynski.
• As of Friday, Crosby becomes the 6th player from Detroit’s 2007 draft to make the majors, joining Rick Porcello, Danny Worth, Luke Putkonen, Charlie Furbush and former Cub DJ LeMahieu.
• As a Kaneland senior in 2006, Crosby nabbed 75 catches for 1,185 yards and 18 TD’s as a wide receiver for the Knights’ football squad that made it to the Class 5A semifinals.
BOX SCORE FOR CASEY CROSBY’S MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT
Friday, June 1, 2012 Comerica Park, DETROIT, Mich. Detroit Tigers (24-27) vs. New York Yankees (27-23) 56 degrees, cloudy Wind: 14 mph, out to left Home plate umpire: Jerry Layne Yankees P: CC Sabathia (6-2) Crosby’s box score: Top 1: Derek Jeter singled to center, Curtis Granderson struck out looking, Mark Teixeira lined out to left, Jeter to second on passed ball, Alex Rodriguez struck out looking 0 runs, 1 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 0, Detroit 0 A Danny Worth RBI single gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Top 2nd: Robinson Cano walked, Nick Swisher walked, Cano to second, Andruw Jones fouled out to third, Jayson Nix walked, Cano to third, Swisher to second, Chris Stewart flied out to shallow left, Jeter walked, Cano scored, Swisher to third, Nix to second, Granderson homered to deep right, Swisher, Nix and Jeter scored, Teixeira flied out to left 5 runs, 1 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 5, Detroit 1 Top 3rd: Rodriguez struck out swinging, Cano grounded out to shortstop, Swisher flied out to left 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 5, Detroit 1 A Ramon Santiago home run and a Prince Fiedler RBI single cut the Yankees lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the third inning. Top 4th: Jones grounded out to shortstop, Nix doubled to shallow right, Nix stole third Stewart singled to shallow center, Nix scored Luis Marte relieved C. Crosby 1 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors NY Yankees 6, Detroit 3 Final score: NY Yankees 9, Tigers 4 W: Sabathia (7-2) L: Crosby (0-1) SV: Rafael Soriano (7) IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP ERA Crosby 3.1 4 6 6 4 3 1 2.40 16.20 76 pitches, 40 strikes