Graham makes his long-awaited MLB debut

Graham makes his long-awaited MLB debut

Graham makes his long-awaited MLB debut
SAN DIEGO -- Lost in the frustration fans likely felt after the D-backs' 6-5 loss to the Padres on Friday night was a good, old-fashioned, feel-good story: the Major League debut of D-backs outfielder Tyler Graham.

Graham, 28, was taken by the Chicago Cubs in the 14th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft but opted not to sign in order to play his senior season at Oregon State -- a wise decision, considering that 2006 Beavers went on to win the NCAA championship.

Graham, a native of Great Falls, Mont., was drafted again in 2006, this time in the 19th round by the Giants, and he began his professional career in short-season Salem-Keizer that summer.

From there, he toiled at various levels of the Giants' system until 2011, when he led the Pacific Coast League by recording 60 stolen bases with San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. He followed that season, his best as a pro, by heading to Mexico to play winter ball in order to prepare himself for what was going to be his seventh season in the Giants' system.

But after just a month of 2012 action with Fresno, the Giants designated Graham for assignment, a blow that kept the ever-determined Graham out of action for no more than a week before he found himself another chance with the D-backs.

He played in 28 games with Triple-A Reno and struggled, hitting just .115 with one stolen base in that span. But injuries to the big league outfield and the expansion of rosters in September left Arizona looking for a versatile outfielder to provide them with some depth. They called Graham.

After seven days of waiting -- a span that likely flew by for a man who had waited seven years -- Graham finally got into his first Major League game when he pinch-ran in the ninth.

"It felt great. It's just a blessing to be up here and to get a chance to get in a game is obviously exciting," Graham said. "Anything I get up here I'm going to be grateful for."

"As a kid growing up, everybody wants to make it to the big leagues eventually. Going through six, six-and-a-half years in the Minors, it's definitely been a grind, probably more mentally than physically."

How many opportunities Graham will get is unclear, but there's no doubt that the first one, however short lived, was well deserved.

"I think if you just keep at it and always believe and always work hard, good things happen to those type of people," Graham said, sweating after getting some extra work in before Saturday's game. "That's all I try to do each and every day: Believe in myself and work as hard as I can."