CLEVELAND — Parole came unexpectedly for Brandon Guyer, who was stunned when summoned to manager Kevin Cash's office as he was readying for the Rays' Aug. 1 game and told he was traded to the Indians.
Sure, that meant he'd have to race home to grab some clothes and head out since his new team wanted him on a flight that night. Sure, that meant he'd have to leave wife Lindsay to deal with their two young kids and pack all their stuff. Sure, that meant he'd have to say goodbye to the buddies and bosses he'd become extremely close with during 5½ years in Tampa Bay.
But that also meant that rather than finish in last place with the rest of the Rays, he'd end up playing in the World Series.
"Unbelievable," Guyer said after Tuesday's opener, a 6-0 Cleveland win over the Cubs. "This is what you dream of. To finally be here. Just to be lucky enough to be traded to a team like this. It's a blessing. It's awesome to be here. …
"Before August when I was with the Rays, I couldn't imagine being in this situation."
Initially, sitting on the plane heading to Atlanta then to Cleveland the night of the deal, Guyer wasn't so sure what to think.
"It wasn't like I was not happy, but part of me was sad," he said. "I had a lot of close friends on the team. All I knew in the big leagues was the Rays family. And we were really comfortable in our place in St. Pete."
But Guyer got a quick heads-up call from catcher Chris Gimenez, who had spent a couple of years in the Rays organization before bouncing to the Indians and who told him how much he would love not just the team but the whole atmosphere.
Then Gimenez played double agent, heading into manager Terry Francona's office to fill him in on what a great pickup they made.
"I told Tito you're going to love this guy," Gimenez said. "He's a gamer. He plays the game hard. He runs the bases well, which is something we take a lot of pride in here. He's a good defender."
Within the first couple of days, after a chat with Francona and Indians execs, Guyer felt much more at ease.
"The transition wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," Guyer, 30, said. "It was very seamless. And I think that helped me be more comfortable and play well here, that's for sure."
That he has. Used in a similar role as with the Rays, the right-handed hitting side of an outfield platoon, he hit .333 with two homers, 14 RBIs and a .907 OPS in 38 games.
"It was kind of an under-the-radar move, and it's really helped us a lot," Francona said. "As you know, he's a great kid, plays hard, always ready. He's been a fun guy to have. Fit right in like three, four days later, like he had been here."
Lindsay got the family packed up and relocated to Ohio a week or so later, and she, too, couldn't be more pleased with how things turned out.
"Brandon and I have really always believed that everything happens for a reason — good, bad or ugly," she said. "After the news sunk in we embraced the change and adventure, moving to a new town, new friends, new teammates.
"I think he handled it well. Change in this sport is hard because these players settle into a routine. But the organization made it easy for him, and he rose to the challenge. He didn't let the pressure of coming to a first-place team get to him. He understood his role here and why they wanted him, and he made sure he was prepared every day, and I think that you're seeing that now.
"He's so happy. This is where we believe he is meant to be, and it's amazing to be playing in the World Series."
Not just playing but starting the opener. And not just starting but playing a key role by doing what he is most known for, getting hit by a pitch — for the MLB-most 32nd time this season — and driving in the Indians' second run.
Guyer, as usual, insisted that wasn't by design, just a quirk in his game to instinctually not move. His teammates, showing their fondness, made sure to tease him about it anyway.
Ostensibly, the Rays traded Guyer because they didn't see him being on their team next season, his $2.5 million or so salary exceeding his value as a part-time player and figuring they had Mikie Mahtook to take his place, plus other options from what was once a glut of outfielders.
But with Mahtook's poor season, Desmond Jennings' release, Corey Dickerson's defensive inadequacies and Steven Souza Jr.'s injuries, the Rays head into the offseason looking, with some urgency, for a starting outfielder.
Guyer got plenty of well wishes from his ex-mates and coaches — "They were all like, 'Okay, go get that ring' " — but never an explanation from Rays officials on why he was dealt, for a pair of low-level prospects.
He insisted he doesn't hold it against them, knowing it's part of the game.
And, really, given how it worked out, why would he care?
"I'm definitely happy to be here," he said, "and to be a part of this."