You’d be hard-pressed to find a baseball player who loves the game as much as Ray Chang.
Chang, who played shortstop at Rockhurst High School and then for Rockhurst University (2002-2005), is in his 11th season of minor-league baseball. He’s advanced to Class AAA in six separate seasons (2006, ’07, ’08 with the Padres’ organization; 2011 and ’12 with the Twins’; and 2013 with the Reds’).
But the elusive call to the major league has yet to come. Chang, 32, is at the Reds’ Class AA affiliate in Pensacola, and on Monday his manager met with him hours before the team’s regular-season finale.
“He asked if I wanted a day off or I wanted to play all nine positions,” Chang said on the team’s Twitter account. “That was an easy answer for me.”
Chang opened the game at first base and played one inning. He went around the infield, then the outfield. In the eighth inning, he was the Blue Wahoos’ catcher.
“Catching (was the hardest) by far,” Chang told MLB.com. “The hardest part about it is when the ball’s in the strike zone, you know that guy’s going to swing, but you have to keep focused on the ball and not the bat coming through the zone.”
Pensacola lost the game, 4-2, but Chang had three hits and threw a spotless ninth inning in his fifth career outing.
“I used to pitch whenever I was in high school, and I knew I wanted to be a pitcher in college and hopefully in pro ball,” Chang told MiLB.com. “Unfortunately, my arm kind of gave away and I had to stick with infield, so every time I get a chance to throw, I take it to heart.”
He got some help from Billy Hamilton, who was on a rehab assignment and showed off his speed in running down a flyball.
“It’s just Ray Chang Day, unofficially,” manager Pat Kelly told the Pensacola News Journal. “He deserves it all. Ray is a great person on and off the field.
“He is great with our young kids in the dugout. I think without being planned, it was a tremendous reward.”