Some people start buying furniture for a new house and then find out the financing fell through. Others visualize growing old together with someone and then get the break-up call.
For Orioles reliever Cody Carroll, he’d envisioned a future with the New York Yankees. He was as close as anyone to reaching the major leagues, with a 2.38 ERA and a 3-0 record with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. In July, he allowed three hits in 10 innings. He was so close to the Bronx he could taste it.
Then, at the trade deadline, all of that went away.
“I was in shock. I really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Carroll said. “Usually, you kind of have an idea, but I had no knowledge before that it was going to happen.”
He had been shipped to the Orioles with two other pitchers, Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate, for closer Zach Britton. Though he would have familiar faces coming with him, he was leaving his roommate, right-hander Cale Coshow, behind.
“I talked to him earlier today,” Carroll said. “He’s still figuring out how to pay rent, of course, on minor league salaries.”
Carroll, 25, packed up his air mattress, television and some clothes and drove down to Norfolk with his wife, Amber Lynn. He was thankful there wasn’t much he owned.
It wasn’t like Scranton was his home. Even his wife is down in Georgia, as a reporter for a local television station in Savannah. Carroll lives out of a hotel. A Mount Juliet, Tenn., native, he tweets his love for the Tennessee Titans. And yet, after a month, Carroll already feels at home with the Orioles.
“Oh, it’s been easy. Guys are great,” he said as fellow rookie pitchers Tanner Scott and Paul Fry tossed what looked like a balled-up sock over his head back and forth, snickering. “Not too much different from the minor leagues.”
He’s already doing what he shouldn’t have done with New York — planning ahead.
“Hopefully in the next four or five years, we rebuild — you can already see it coming along already,” he said. “I hope to be a part of that.”
Carroll (0-2) has had a mixed performance so far as an Oriole. In eight innings, the rookie has a 6.75 ERA. He pitched a scoreless inning in his major league debut against his old team at Yankee Stadium. He surrendered a pair of home runs, to Yankees right-fielder Neil Walker and first baseman Luke Voit, in the 10th inning of Friday night’s game to take the loss.
“I had a couple outings that maybe weren’t the best, but those are the ones that I’ve got to brush aside, especially being up here and being new,” he said. “But it’s no excuse at the same time. Just throw those back to the side and start over.”
The currently playoff-bound Yankees, as stacked as their bullpen normally is, do miss Carroll and what could have been, especially now that closer Aroldis Chapman is on the disabled list and there’s room for an extra arm.
“Would you like to have him? Sure. We’re in a different situation,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “He’s gotten better and better. He’s got power with the fastball. He’s developed his slider really well, and he’s had a chance to develop his split, so he’s got a chance.”
It’d be reasonable to expect Carroll would feel just as competitive against the Yankees as he would in the case of any other Orioles’ foe. But this isn’t just any team coming to town. The Yankees are a young squad. There are just too many pinstripers — Miguel Andújar, Gleyber Torres and Jonathan Holder for starters — that Carroll played with in the minors within the past two years alone.
“I had an opportunity to say hello to him when the O’s visited us back in New York,” Andújar said through Yankees Spanish interpreter Marlon Abreu. “He’s a great ballplayer, great arm. I wish him all the luck.”
“We’ve got a really good relationship,” Torres said. “It’s good to face him again.”
Carroll keeps up his attack-the-plate game plan, even when his old teammates are batting. But afterward, they’ll be just friends again, even after their teammates hit home runs off him.
“I’m going to text a couple of them after the game and see if they want to grab dinner,” he said. “Maybe lunch tomorrow, who knows?”