ST. PETERSBURG — Todd Redmond's homecoming today will be marked by a zealous party of family and friends who plan to perch as close as they can to the mound where the former Northside Christian standout will be starting for the Blue Jays.
"I'd say there are at least 50 people I know that plan to attend," said Redmond's mother, Kristi. "That's probably a low number because I've heard from friends, former teammates, even Little League coaches who said they are going. I know Todd has been deluged with calls, too."
On Tuesday, Redmond was called up from Triple-A Buffalo to start against the Red Sox. Soon after, Kristi mapped out the schedule and discovered her son's next start would be against the Rays.
"It will be a pretty awesome experience," Todd Redmond said. "The only time I've ever been on the mound at the Trop before was in a Perfect Game showcase when I was in high school. I didn't even have to look at the schedule. My mom does a pretty good job of keeping track of that stuff and called right away when she figured out I'd be starting against the Rays."
To appreciate how special Redmond's return home is, you have to look at the route the 28-year-old traveled to get here, a path that took nine years and included four other teams.
Selected by Pittsburgh in the 39th round of the 2004 amateur draft, Redmond lasted four years in the Pirates' minor-league system before he was traded to Atlanta. He moved rapidly up the Braves' organizational ladder, the highlight coming in 2010 when he threw a no-hitter for Triple-A Gwinnett.
But because of Atlanta's pitching depth, Redmond never was called up. Last year, he was traded to Cincinnati, where he made his major-league debut.
The moment didn't last. Redmond was waived by the Reds before the start of spring training. In February, he was claimed by Baltimore, which waived him a month later.
Eventually, Redmond's luck in baseball evened out. In March, he was claimed by Toronto, where he has bounced between the majors and Triple-A Buffalo. His latest promotion could last through the season considering the Blue Jays have had to deal with numerous injuries on their staff.
"I came up as a bullpen guy, and I've been given the chance to start," said Redmond, who is 1-1 with a 3.62 ERA this season. "I'm just trying to run with it and enjoy it. But this start should be memorable."
Redmond grew up a Rays fan. His family had season tickets, and he would bring baseball cards to games to have players sign.
"I still have a lot of that memorabilia," Kristi said. "Todd used to get everything from games, lineup cards, broken bats, you name it."
Kristi said the family dropped its season tickets in order to see her son pitch during his trek through the minors.
"It's been a tough road for Todd," Kristi said. "He's gotten the opportunity he has right now through a lot of hard work and some fortunate breaks.
"Really, the whole family is over the moon with him being able to come home and start. It's a blessing how it was able to all come together like this. I think it was by design."