NEW YORK—His minor league season complete, catcher Austin Romine retreated to Kentucky when on Sept. 10 his girlfriend told him Yankees manager Joe Girardi was looking for him.
Big league backup Francisco Cervelli was on his way from Anaheim to New York to have concussion testing, and Romine was needed in California.
In an instant, Romine shifted gears and jumped a plane to join the American League East pennant race. He landed in California at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 11 and entered that night's game as Jesus Montero's defensive replacement in the seventh inning of what became a 6-5 Yankees victory.
Romine handled Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning with his brother Andrew watching from the Angels dugout and father Kevin, a former big leaguer, in the stands at Angel Stadium
"I was happy my family could be here," Romine said. "I grew up 10 minutes from here (in Lake Forest, Calif.)."
The 22-year-old made his first major league start in Seattle the following evening, subbing for Russell Martin and his bruised right thumb.
As it turned out, Romine was not merely an injury fill-in. Cervelli missed the season's final week, and his status for October was unclear.
Romine, the 2007 second-round pick, seemed anything but overwhelmed. Even a seasoned evaluator would have been hard-pressed to identify Romine as a big league neophyte behind the plate.
"That's big praise for a catcher, that you don't know he is there," farm director Mark Newman said. "He reacts quickly, blocks balls well, doesn't struggle to catch balls, has good hands and throws well.
"He has been around (the big leagues) his whole life. That's a big advantage."
Romine batted .279/.343/.368 with six homers in 351 at-bats in a season spent predominately with Double-A Trenton. He appeared in four games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 2-for-15 (.133).
• With Montero and Romine in the big leagues, the Yankees brought minor league catching coordinator Julio Mosquera to the big leagues. Clubs typically promote a minor league coach for the final month.
• Pitching prospects Andrew Brackman (11⁄3 innings, one hit, one walk) and Dellin Betances (seven batters faced, four walks, one hit batsman) each made their big league debut in a 15-8 loss to the Rays on Sept. 22.