The wait is finally over.
Not just for catcher Carlos Santana. But for all the Indians fans who checked the sports pages and internet sites first thing each morning since the baseball season began to see if the Tribe's No. 1 prospect had been called up to the major leagues yet.
Thursday night, Santana finally heard the words he's been waiting to hear since he first started swinging a bat as a youngster in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic:
"You're headed to the big leagues, kid!"
The call came from Triple-A manager Mike Sarbaugh after Santana had gone 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI in a 10-9 loss to visiting Rochester and had headed back to his apartment in Columbus.
"He told me to continue working hard the same way I did in Columbus and everything would work out," Santana said through his interpreter Ruben Niebla, who is an Indians assistant to the major league coaching staff this season and served as the pitching coach at Double-A Akron last year while Santana played there all season.
The promotion for Santana, 24, came just in time for the Indians weekend series against the visiting Washington Nationals, which meant the end of the Indians Lou Marson experiment.
Marson, who opened the season with the big league team, was traded to Cleveland last year in the late July in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Philadelphia.
"I feel really good to be here and I want to thank all the fans for all the support I've been getting," said the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Santana, whom the Indians acquired just before the trading deadline in July of 2008 from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for veteran Casey Blake.
Understand that for as much as fans complained on radio talk shows inquiring about him over the last few months and Indians officials were badgered about what was taking so long to bring him up, Santana was hearing it from fans as well: What in the world was the hold up?
"A combination of things," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "It had to do with both (Santana) and Lou Marson and what's best for both of those players, as well as for the Cleveland Indians. For Carlos, his bat dictated a long time ago that he was probably ready to make the transition to the major leagues. His defense...had to make strides."
As it did since April - as the nightly reports from Sarbaugh and staff showed continuing progress in that area - the Tribe brass decided it was time.
As much as a surprise as the call up was to Santana, so too was the fact that Indians manager Manny Acta had penciled the kid's name in the thre-hole in the batting order - not the normal place for a rookie making his major league debut.
But Acta said Santana is not your average rookie.
"Carlos is here, and hopefully, he'll help us," Acta said. "He's ready. He has has the ability to work the count and hit the ball with power from both sides of the plate. He's not your prototypical over aggressive hitter."
Now, the Santana era finally begins in earnest in Cleveland.