In his major-league debut Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field, Scott Carroll kept reminding himself that he deserved to be in a White Sox uniform, even at the relatively advanced age of 29.
Carroll proceeded to take the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays and ace David Price and almost make it look easy.
Staying cool and calm, the right-hander breezed through 7⅓ innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks while throwing a very efficient 100 pitches.
But when Sox manager Robin Ventura lifted him with one out in the eighth inning, Carroll spotted his mother, Linda, in the appreciative crowd of 17,313. She was crying, and Carroll wasn't far behind.
"I had to hide back some tears and fight through that because it's been a long road for my family and I," Carroll said after earning a well-deserved win in the White Sox' 9-2 decision over Tampa Bay. "They've been through all this stuff with me ever since I was a kid, taking me to games as a Little Leaguer. For me to finally achieve my dream, my mom, she's an angel, and she's put in a lot of hard work taking care of me through two surgeries. It was pretty awesome."
For as awesome as Carroll was in his first start with the Sox, his back story is even better.
From 2003-06, Carroll didn't even play baseball. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder was at Purdue on a football scholarship those first two years, but the quarterback was stuck behind Kyle Orton.
Carroll transferred to Missouri State University, close to his home in Kansas City, where he played QB before getting back to baseball in 2006.
Selected by the Reds in the third round of the 2007 draft, Carroll seemingly had a bright future before having right hip surgery in 2009 and Tommy John surgery in 2012.
"It's always been in my DNA just to continue to compete, and I wasn't going to give up," Carroll said. "But even coming off Tommy John surgery, I contemplated it (quitting). At the end of the day I knew what I was capable of doing here and I worked hard and deserve to be up here."
Carroll also deserved to celebrate his dazzling debut, and he did just that Sunday night with his mother and 35 other family members and friends.
"We're going to try to meet up and I'm probably going to get a lot of hugs, a lot of kisses and stuff," Carroll said. "It's awesome. Go grab a few drinks and have some dinner and just soak it all in."
Opposing a starter the caliber of Price would have intimidated most new starters, but not Carroll.
"As soon as I found out I was going against Price I thought to myself, 'What an opportunity,' " Carroll said. "There's no better chance to showcase my skills and get to go against one of the best guys, a Cy Young winner. You know what, I just happened to be better than him today. It's a fun experience and I'm just so happy to do it."
Ventura is happy to have a promising arm in a rotation that has battled injuries and erratic control all season.
"You have a guy that gets his first opportunity in the big leagues and takes advantage of it," Ventura said. "At 29, being up here, it's special. He was throwing strikes, groundballs. Even when guys got on, he had a sinker that you can use to get double plays and get out of innings. He showed everybody what it's like when you throw strikes."