Happy Friday, everyone!
For my “What’s Happening in Baseball” entry for today, I present Daniel Camarena of the San Diego Padres. Camarena is a native San Diegan, who made his major league debut with his hometown team, after ten seasons in the minor leagues.
Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2011 Amateur Draft, Daniel toiled in the minor leagues for seven years. Eventually Camarena left as a minor league free agent. He bounced around several other organizations until the Yankees brought him back in 2019. The Yankees needed an extra arm, and got the call, but never appeared in the game. His MLB debut had to wait, and he returned the next day to their Triple-A team in Scranton – Wilkes Barre.
Here is video of Camarena I captured in Buffalo during one of his starts with the RailRiders when they played the Buffalo Bisons in June, 2019. Sahlen Field received massive upgrades in 2020 and ’21, becoming the temporary home of the Toronto Blue Jays.
At the end of August, the Yankees cut Camarena loose and he signed with the Padres on February 13, 2020. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor leagues, leaving only “alternate sites” for MLB teams in 2020. I’ll be happy if I never hear the term alternate site for the rest of my life.
Minor League Baseball is back this year, and Camarena performed well for the El Paso Chihuahuas. Across ten appearances, he pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 45.2 innings. Finally, Daniel made his MLB debut on June 19 with 2.2 innings against Cincinnati, in a game the Padres won, 7-5.
Last night, he made his second appearance a very memorable one – but for reasons no one saw coming. Summoned in the top of the 4th inning after the Washington Nationals battered Padres starter Yu Darvish for six runs in three innings, the Nats tallied a couple more runs off Camarena, taking a 8-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Padres let Daniel hit for himself. After all, Manager Jayce Tingler figured they were going to need some length with many innings for the bullpen to cover.
Camarena walked to the plate with the bases loaded against Nationals ace Max Scherzer, and history unveiled itself.
This isn't just a grand slam.
And it isn't just a grand slam BY A PITCHER.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 9, 2021
In addition, his brother and other family members were in the house to see it live.
Padres reliever Daniel Camarena hit a grand slam for his first career hit in MLB @BRWalkoff
His family was in attendance to witness it ❤️
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 9, 2021
It’s nice to see good things happen to good people. See ya next time! 😎⚾