To Dylan Bundy, it felt like just a few days ago that he last ran out of the Orioles bullpen, and he downplayed his first major league appearance since 2012 by acknowledging that.
Yet even Bundy was taken aback by just how long it has really been: 1,290 days — a span that included three lost seasons, an elbow surgery, and plenty of hard work aimed at ending that climbing countdown.
"I did not know that number," Bundy said. "I just know it was a long time."
"Even though it's been four years, it seems like just the other day I was doing it," Bundy said. "But I was nervous. I think everybody saw that. I didn't really have my fastball command, but it was still fun to get back out there since it's been so long."
With a scoreless eighth inning in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins, Bundy hit what he hopes is the last milestone in a comeback that was far too long in the making. He shot to the majors in 2012 — his first full professional season — but had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and threw 63 1/3 innings combined in 2014 and 2015 as he rehabbed and dealt with shoulder issues.
He entered spring training needing to learn to be a professional reliever.
"I was ready to get spring training over with so I could hopefully make the team and get up here and fortunately, it worked out," he said. "It was a long spring but a healthy one. So, I'm happy."
Said manager Buck Showalter: "I'm sure there was a lot of emotion floating around there."
Just as important as the result — a hold on the stat sheet and a win for the Orioles — is the fact that the outing is now behind him.
He is no longer the rehabbing top prospect, instead a self-proclaimed smarter pitcher who learned a lot on the shelf, including how not to land back on there again.
Best of all, there will be no more fanfare, though he did get more than your average cheer from the thin Camden Yards crowd upon his debut.
"That's the plan, anyway," Bundy said. "I was looking forward to getting that first one out of the way now, and I'm looking forward to the next ones."