It's crunch time for Cards rookie Kelly

Though he has only been in the big leagues for a couple of days, Carson Kelly already has a clear understanding of what is at stake as the St. Louis Cardinals make their push for a September run to close out the season.

“This is crunch time–this is the season,” said Kelly. “You work in Spring Training to get to this point. Everybody goes about their business somewhat similar to what they did in Spring Training, but there’s a lot more information, a lot more studying. You look at those fine details, which not all the time you do in Spring Training. You look at the very fine details that might help us win a ballgame.”

Kelly has spent time each of the last three Spring Trainings in big league camp, which helped prime him for this opportunity–though moments like last night’s dramatic, three home run comeback were not on the radar.

“That was the first time I’ve ever seen homer after homer after homer,” said Kelly. “Yadi, Waino, Carp–all those guys, they’re keeping our hopes up, firing us up in the dugout. When you hear that and see that, it makes you want to contribute and put a voice to everything. That’s something that we continued in those later innings…during that 9th inning, it was pretty crazy in the dugout and look what happened.”

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati RedsThe 22-year old Kelly made his MLB debut with the Cardinals on Tuesday, doubling in his only at-bat against Pittsburgh.

“Oh man, I would say catching,” answered Kelly if he felt more butterflies walking to the plate to hit or call his first pitch. “I’ve only been catching for a couple of years now, so I think that was probably one of the highlights–along with the hit, that’s something that’s very special and I’ll always remember but I also think catching–that’s my goal. That’s my focus. Getting back there, you don’t get to catch in big league stadiums. You get there and there’s that third deck that everybody talks about. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget and I think I’m going to be ready for that next opportunity.”

While the last 72 hours have been a whirlwind, Kelly was able to have a moment when the reality of making the big leagues hit him.

“After I played, after the game and I took my gear off, I kind of sat there in the dugout and then Mike was waiting for me. He whistled over for me, so I ran over to him and he asked me how that was. That’s when it kind of hit me. I was like ‘wow, I’m in the big leagues’ that’s not something everybody gets to say. Definitely very, very special and it was great to have my family here to experience it as well.”

In fact, Kelly’s family was alongside when he initially received the news of his promotion.

“It was actually pretty special because we were in Oklahoma City and my parents were actually at the game,” explained Kelly. “After the game, Mike Shildt, our manager in Triple A, he brought my parents down on the field and told us all together which was really, really special. It’s a moment that not many get to share with their family right away and I was very fortunate to have that.”


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