Dressed in boots, a button-down shirt and jeans, Rex Brothers looks every bit the part yes-sir, no-ma’am Shelbyville native.
Put him on the mound, staring down a hitter in the late innings of a pressure situation and the view is a little different.
Fortunately, Brothers wore the purple-and-gold in college and drove Atlantic Sun hitters crazy. He owns three of the top five strikeout campaigns in Lipscomb history and was named to the All-Tournament team at the 2008 Athens Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
The 34th pick in the 2009 draft wrapped up his rookie season with the Colorado Rockies in September. Brothers finished his first tour of duty in the big leagues with a 1-2 record, 2.88 ERA, 59 strikeouts and one save in 48 appearances.
He was back at his alma mater last week for the monthly Jim Wood luncheon as the guest speaker. During a Q&A session with the “Voice of the Bisons”, Jonathan Seamon, Brothers told stories of his call-up, life in the big leagues and his adjustment to the majors.
Q: Where were you when you got the news you’d been called up to the majors and how did you get the news?
A: We were in Fresno, Calif. We were up two runs in the eighth inning, which is usually my time. They called down to the bullpen and got someone else up and I thought, “I either got traded or I’m going home.”
After that, the manager called me into his office and said, “Brothers, I heard you were talking some crap about not pitching tonight.”
I said, “I was just wondering why I wasn’t pitching.”
He said, “You’re not pitching because you’re going to the big leagues. Pack your bags.”
Q: What were the emotions that followed after that?
A: It was one of those smiles you can’t control. You don’t want to go out into the clubhouse and act giddy. I tried to keep my head down for a little bit, but the guys were all over me, congratulating me.
Q: What was it like dressing in a big-league uniform for the first time?
A: It was incredible. The first person I saw in the clubhouse at 7:30 in the morning was Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki). He said congratulations. You can’t put a word on the feeling of seeing the uniform hanging there for the first time.
Q: How fast was your heart beating the first time you warmed up in the bullpen?
A: I don’t think it would have been as bad if it had been at home or somewhere else, but at San Francisco the bullpen is right on the field. If you throw one by the catcher, it’s going all the way down into the field of play and they’ll have to stop the game, not to mention the people sitting a few feet away screaming “Brothers, you’re terrible! Go back to the minors!” the entire time.
Q: What was it like going into the game for the first time?
A: In San Diego, I was worried about throwing one on the field because the bullpen there is on the field too. Then it was “Don’t trip over the foul line, don’t trip over the grass, don’t trip on the dirt. Once you get on the mound, don’t throw it to the backstop.” (Laughs) But about halfway to the mound I just thought, “When you get up there, have fun. Whatever happens, happens. Learn from it.”
Q: How was living in Denver?
A: I like Denver. It’s a smaller big city. I live right by the ballpark and can walk to the field, so it’s really convenient. The people are really laid back and there are a lot of good baseball fans there. The weather is beautiful.
Q: Looking back on it now, what are some of the things you learned this season?
A: There are several things I learned throughout the year, but the biggest lesson was don’t get behind Ryan Howard 3-0 (Laughs). Baseball-wise, I learned the importance of getting ahead in the count, and of getting to the field and taking care of business. You could tell by sitting and watching other guys and how they went about their days that it was all business.