Topkin: An emotional moment for Rays rookie Daniel Robertson

Published April 1 2017
Updated April 2 2017

There was crying in baseball Saturday.

Having just received the stunning words that he made it to the majors by winning a spot on the Rays' opening day roster, rookie INF Daniel Robertson made the obvious first call to his mom, Julie.

Then he used his phone to share the news in his own way with someone equally special — his father, Don, who died of lung cancer in September 2013.

"I always saved the voice mail that he left me when I was in low A (of the minors), and I listened to that and it says how proud he was of me at the time, but I kind of just was taking it as if I just made the phone call to him right now," Robertson said.

"I kind of hold back my tears when I listen to that. I miss him. I know he's looking down at me. Proud as hell. Proud as can be. I'm just trying to make my family as proud as I can be doing what I love."

As a daily tribute, Robertson, acquired from Oakland in the January 2015 Ben Zobrist trade, writes on his wrist tape "BYB," a reminder of his dad telling him "Believe You Belong."

With all the cynicism and negativity and bad news that can permeate the game, days like this can make even the most grizzled observers tear up. (Just saying.)

Stories about guys like Robertson, and rookie RHP Austin Pruitt, getting their first opportunities are the kind that make everyone feel good.

"Those guys getting to experience something for the first time, it's pretty special," manager Kevin Cash said. "And it's special for us to be a part of it."

When the Rays made official Thursday that Pruitt had similarly won an unexpected roster spot, one of the first players to hug him in congratulations was Jaime Schultz, who had been told moments earlier he didn't get the spot and was going back to the minors.

For Robertson, who turned 23 last month, to openly share his emotions about his dad in the clubhouse was something. For him to now get to share the experience of making the majors with Julie, who came to Florida for the last two weeks of spring training and was sticking around waiting, is something else.

"I told her the news, and she just gave kind of a loud shout and kind of choked up a little bit," Robertson said.

She wasn't the only one.

ARCHER CHANGEUP: RHP Chris Archer said his decision to change agents mid contract — he is signed through 2019, with two team options — was a matter of staying with the rep, Ed Cerulo, who handled his marketing at ISE and had moved to Legacy.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: The new Trop turf doesn't have the burst painted on centerfield, a combination of the look and new MLB rules outlawing markings that help position defenders. … That Shaw Sports Turf comes with an eight-year guarantee, so in theory it should be the last the Rays buy at the Trop. … Among additions to training room options, a Pilates reformer and Shockwave therapy. … The pingpong table that was a big hit in Port Charlotte made the cut and was moved to the Trop clubhouse. … Among changes at the Trop: Free Slurpee samples for kids 14 and under at the 7-Eleven alcove in rightfield street, and 10 strikeouts netting a coupon for a Whopper combo meal (via Kane's Furniture). … Nice gesture by the big-league staff to invite top SS prospect Willy Adames to be in the lineup for the spring finale.

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