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December 21, 2014

Ranburne native Whitley to make first big league start

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Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 12:17 pm

As of late Wednesday evening, he didn’t have a uniform number but Chase Whitley assumes he’ll have a number before the 6:10 p.m. start of today’s game at Citi Field between the host New York Mets and Whitley’s New York Yankees.

Whitley went to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday morning, arriving 45 minutes early to “take in the scenery,” and was told he’ll be added to the 25-man roster today then be the starting pitcher in the finale of the current "Subway Series" between the Yanks and the Mets.

Before he got the good news, Whitley encountered a couple of humbling experiences. When he and his wife, Brooklyn, reached the stadium in their car they went to the players’ parking lot. When he told the attendant he was Chase Whitley, the response he received was a curt, “Who? Let me see your ID.” Eventually, they passed the parking lot test then he encountered the same scenario when he tried to enter the players’ locker room. “Jay Whitley? Who?”

“Definitely humbling after being on a high for so long, knowing that up here I’m a little fish in a big pond,” Whitley said with a chuckle Wednesday night.

After the meeting, he was on his own.

“I just went to the field and just tried to stay on my routine as far as the throwing and a little running. Was at the field for about an hour, went through my routine and was able to get out of there,” he said.

Today will be business as usual, too.

“I’m going to get on the train and go to the game sometime around midafternoon and then just wait it out and get ready to pitch. Cut my phone off and just lock in on pitching,” Whitley said.

Whitley has been a non-roster invitee to the Yankees’ major league spring training camp for each of his four springs with the organization. That should ease today’s move from minor leaguer to major leaguer.

“That’s a blessing there because at least even the guys that I’ve not associated with much during spring training they’ll at least know my face. … I’m buddies with a lot of guys on that team, have genuine friendships,” Whitley said. “That’s another blessing, just knowing guys. That should make the transition easier.”

His new teammates won’t be the only ones pulling for him at Citi Field. His parents and Brooklyn’s arrived in New York on Wednesday. Friends are making the long trip, too.

“There’s a chance there could be 15, 20, 25 people (at the game). Unbelievable, unbelievable support. … The number of text messages, phone calls, it’s just been unbelievable,” he said.

What was he thinking as he and Brooklyn drove toward New York City from Allentown, Pa., on Tuesday?

“The thoughts that go through your head are all the work that’s been put in and the chance to do something that’s something very special. I just hope to make the most of it but at the same time enjoy it.”

Whitley is very aware that even if he pitches successfully his stay at the major league level could be cut short when a more experienced pitcher returns from the disabled list.

“I’m trying to just enjoy the moment instead of looking ahead to everything else, which is so difficult not to do,” he said.

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