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Tyler Colvin thought his season was over. He had just finished up playing for the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League playoffs and was ready to head to Arizona for a while.
"I was just about on my way to the airport," the soft-spoken Colvin told me recently. "I had all my stuff packed. My grandparents were in town to drive me to the airport in Tennessee and that was it -- my season was over as far as I was concerned. [We had] just got done with the playoffs and didn't really think I was gonna get to play anymore."
But that's when he got the call that the Cubs needed him to replace the recently suspended Milton Bradley.
While the 24-year-old Clemson alum admitted that the circumstances surrounding his call up were a little strange, he is just happy to be able to still play the game.
"To get the call, it definitely was a surprise," Colvin admitted. "[But] it's more baseball, I can't be upset with that."
What's it like for you to walk into Wrigley for the first time? What are the feelings that go through you when you're in here?
Tyler Colvin: It's just pure excitement, I guess. A little confusion to go along with it, just trying to figure out where everything is. Trying to get situated. Trying to get my locker ready and trying to get ready for the game. It's fun.
To walk in and see your name on the locker -- do you just look at it and go, "Whoa?"
TC: I already had that [moment] in Milwaukee when I saw my jersey with the name on it so now, it's going to be experiencing the fans here, and the field, obviously. And getting used to playing here.
Did you follow the Cubs growing up? Who was your team?
TC: It was any baseball team that was on, really. I'd consider the Braves because they were pretty close to me and I got to go to a couple games there, but I didn't really have a favorite team growing up.
I read that you were born in Augusta, Ga. How many times have people asked you about The Masters? Are the questions just non-stop?
TC: Yeah, I'm from North Augusta, South Carolina. I'm right on the border. But yeah, I get enough about The Masters. [Cubs vice president of player personnel] Oneri Fleita came in with a Masters shirt on and said he got to play there and it kind of rubs my grandfather the wrong way 'cause he didn't get to play there (smiles) and Fleita gets to play there. It's good to talk about [The Masters] sometimes. It's a great tournament and people enjoy it a lot.
Have you gotten to play Augusta before?
TC: Oh, no.Is that a goal down the line for you -- to be able to play there? TC: I wouldn't be against it, that's for sure. But I really don't play too much golf. But if I do, I'm not really worried about the score too much, 'cause I know I'm not very good. But if I got to play there that'd be great. Aside from golf, what are you doing when you're not playing? TC: Just relaxin' with my dog and my girlfriend. Just tryin' to relax a little bit, I guess. I really don't do too much other than try to fish a little bit. So in some ways you're like every other kid who moves to a new place and tries to learn about a new city in between going to work and coming home? TC: Definitely. Right now, I'm living in a hotel.(Laughs) I'm just trying to walk around and find some stuff down here. Through the offseason, that's when I really get to figure stuff out and try to get situated somewhere. This season has got to be the longest you've played without a break, right? TC: I'd say last year I played in a lot of games and got a lot of at-bats. I think this year was a little bit different, coming off the [Tommy John] surgery. I jumped right back into [the game] and didn't really take many breaks along the way. Is there anyone that you're looking forward to doing next week that you weren't able to do during the season? TC: No, not really. Besides getting stronger, getting ready for the next year. That's the main focus. Find somewhere to call home for a little bit and then start working for next year. How many times have you been asked about that walk-off grand slam you hit for Clemson in the NCAA Super Regionals? TC: A lot. You get to face a lot of guys in the minor leagues. They're like, "Hey man, I went to Oral Roberts and oh man, that [homer] really tore us up there." It's a good memory, but I'd like to make some new ones along the way too. Obviously, it's hard to know right now, but do you think something could come close to topping that memory? TC: It's a walk-off hit. Any time you do that it's very exciting, I don't care what kind of game it is. If the game doesn't matter much or it does, it's just a great feeling to be that guy up at the plate that gets [homer], knocks in that last run. What's the biggest difference between Clemson, S.C., and Chicago from what you've seen so far? TC: [Chicago] is a little bit bigger. There's not much in Clemson. I think there's like two roads in Clemson. Here, you can get lost here in a hurry. It's two completely different cities. There's no Mellow Mushroom here, though? TC: (Smiles) No there's not. But, it's a lot different here. It's a little crazy. You mentioned that you were trying to make new memories here -- it doesn't seem like you fall back on that home run as much as other Clemson alumni do? [Note: one of my best friends is a proud Clemson alum and still talks about Colvin's walkoff homer.] TC: It was a great accomplishment. That was a good team I played with but it's college. You can't go back to that experience. I just gotta move on. I can always think back to it, but I don't think bringing it up is gonna help me out here at all. (Smiles). Have any of your teammates been giving you a hard time about Clemson football? TC: No, not really. In the minor leagues, they did. I had a Clemson guy on the team with me and he was a big, hardcore football fan. He really got into the games so of course we got ragged for it. As long as I stay quiet about who my college team is, I won't get ragged too bad. You played for Team USA in the Baseball World Cup. Would you like to see the Olympics in Chicago, or do you not really have an opinion? TC: Chicago's a great town, I don't see why they couldn't have it here. It was a great experience [for me] going to Taiwan and seeing what they could do there. It was just the World Cup -- it wasn't the Olympics -- but just to see a different side of the [world] was great for me. We'll wrap it up on this one: You've obviously set a lot of goals throughout your career, is it a relief to finally get up here or is it just part of the process of becoming a big leaguer? TC: It's part of the process. Now the tough part is sticking. That's what I'll finish up here thinking about, and work hard in the off-season thinking about it, just what can I do to stay up here. It just depends on what happens next year. But this is just one of my goals, just to get here -- now I have to stay.