The call to play in the majors for the Indians came as a surprise to Aeros shortstop Juan Diaz.
Diaz, 23, realized a lifelong dream in late May, when he appeared in five games for the Indians.
His stay in “The Show” was brief. He filled in for Tribe All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who was sidelined with a minor injury.
Diaz made his major-league debut May 25 and rejoined the Aeros on June 5. He vividly remembers playing in Chicago against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field and at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Kansas City Royals.
“It was a great experience,” Diaz said after a recent Aeros game at Canal Park. “It was my first time in the major leagues. I was excited and happy. My family was very happy. I work hard all the time. No matter where I play, it can be Double-A or Triple-A, I am working to go back to the big leagues.”
Diaz batted .267 in his stint with the Indians with four hits in 15 at-bats and four runs scored. He registered his first major-league hit May 27 off White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd when he connected on a fastball.
“It was a great experience for Juan to be able to go up there and fill in when there was a need there,” Aeros manager Chris Tremie said. “He played well up there and handled himself very well from what I heard.”
The Indians acquired Diaz and outfielder Ezequiel Carrera in a trade June 27, 2010, with the Seattle Mariners for slugging infielder Russell Branyan.
Diaz is hitting .257 in 68 games for the Aeros this season. He has 68 hits, seven home runs, 37 RBI, 36 runs scored and 15 doubles.
“Since he has come back, he has been very professional,” Tremie said. “He continues to work on his game and he is the same guy that was here before. He is hungry to get better and keep improving.”
Diaz, a 6-foot-4 and 200-pound native of the Dominican Republic, put together a memorable game this past Sunday, when he went 4-for-4 with a grand slam, a double, two singles and eight RBI in an 11-8 win over the host Bowie Baysox.
Diaz conceded that it was tough to rejoin the Aeros after having a taste of the big leagues.
“When they told me I was going back to Akron, it was tough,” Diaz said. “I didn’t want to come back. Of course, I wanted to stay up there, but the front office make the decisions and you just have to deal with it.”
Diaz is confident he will get the call to the big leagues again.
For now, he has the memory of the initial promotion.
“Tremie asked me in at about 2 p.m.” Diaz said of what was expected to be a routine day in the minor leagues preparing to play the Trenton Thunder. “He said he needed to talk to me. He told me, ‘You are going to the big leagues.’ I was like ‘Wow.’ I was excited and really happy.”
Tremie was also thrilled for Diaz.
“We called him in and told him congratulations, ‘You are being promoted,’ ” Tremie said. “Of course, at that time he probably thought it was Columbus. Then I told him he was going to the big leagues, and he was very happy about it.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.