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Prospect leaves family guessing after callup


This story was excerpted from John Denton’s Cardinals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Brendan Donovan’s goal wasn’t to playfully tease family members with his big news from earlier in the week, and he’s hopeful now that they understand what happened considering his overjoyed state of mind at the time.

Upon learning last Sunday afternoon that he was being promoted from Triple-A Memphis to the Cardinals, Donovan sent out a quick text message to his family and laid his phone down so he could hurriedly pack and get ready for the four-hour drive up I-55 to St. Louis. Donovan didn’t know it at the time, but his message created a host of questions for his confused family members who couldn’t wait to find out more information.

“I sent a text message to my family group message, `Hey, I’m getting called up!’ and I guess I left them in the dark a little bit,” a giggling Donovan said on Monday upon getting to the Cardinals clubhouse. “I sat my phone down because I was packing my stuff and I had gotten all of these messages, saying, ‘Wait, what? Explain. We need details.’ I guess I should have called and explained what was going on a little better, but hopefully they understood.”

If they didn’t understand Donovan’s delight at the time, they got a firsthand look at it on Monday night when the utility man made his Major League debut while being used as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the eighth of a 0-0 game against the Mets. When Donovan scored on Tyler O’Neill’s single, it looked at the time like it might go down as the winning run and it sent a jolt of adrenaline coursing throughout the body of the 25-year-old Donovan.

“I’m surprised it’s still in my chest because it was pumping pretty hard,” said Donovan when asked if his heart was racing upon being sent in to pinch-run in a tie game. “The ovation that I got was pretty cool, and to be able to break the tie right there, that was awesome. I’ll never forget that memory.”

Donovan, who took pictures on the field with his family prior to his first start on Tuesday, said he also won’t forget the hugs and congratulations he got from his Memphis teammates upon word spreading of his promotion. Because Donovan can play third, first, second, shortstop, left field and right field — he brings four gloves out to the dugout for every game — the Cardinals want to use his versatility to give an occasional rest to veterans Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. He impressed the Cardinals with his gritty style of play in Spring Training, and now he’s getting every opportunity to prove that he can make it at the Major League level.

“He played quite a bit, got a lot of at-bats and played a lot of different positions in spring, and his mentality was that he always wanted to prove that belonged at the big league level,” Marmol said of Donovan, who was hitting .298 and had hits in 14 of his 16 games at Memphis at the time of his call-up. “It’s always good to watch him play and he’ll be fun to have around.”

Moments after arriving at the Cardinals clubhouse earlier this week, Donovan was asked if he had a “wow” moment yet. He turned to his left and pointed at the nameplate above the locker next to his. It read: ALBERT PUJOLS. “I’d have to say this would be it,” he said with a wry smile.

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