Suppan ready to answer call to big leagues

Suppan ready to answer call to big leagues

Suppan ready to answer call to big leagues
ANAHEIM -- Jeff Suppan has 140 victories in his big league career and, at 37, he wouldn't mind adding a few more.

"If somebody calls, I'll be ready," he said. "If they don't, they don't."

Suppan stopped by the Royals' clubhouse on Wednesday to visit with teammates who graduated from last year's Triple-A Omaha squad, which won the Pacific Coast League championship. Suppan had an 11-8 record for that team and mentored many of the young pitchers.

"In my Minor League experience, we'd never won a championship -- it was really just playing to go to the next level. Last year a majority of the team was there through the whole season so it was fun, and it's fun seeing them now -- and watching them now," he said.

Suppan never was called up by the Royals last year and moved on to the San Diego organization this year. He started the season with Triple-A Tucson, but the Padres beckoned in May and he pitched five shutout innings to beat the Brewers.

"After going through last year, it was like, 'All right, it probably won't happen,'" he said. "But, for whatever reason, things lined up and I got the opportunity on May 2 and I won the game. After just grinding it out all last year and then getting a chance to put on a Major League uniform again, and to win a game, was pretty awesome in my career. I was very proud of that."

Suppan was 2-3 in six starts before being designated for assignment. He decided not to return to the Minors but is staying in shape -- just in case. After 17 Major League seasons, including five for the Royals (1998-2002), he hasn't officially retired.

"I always considered myself a 'grinder,' I learned that expression from [former Royals manager] Tony Muser and that was always my mentality, and I feel like I'm going to grind it out as long as I can," he said.

For now, Suppan and his wife, Dana, are concentrating on the operation of Soup's Sports Grill, a family-oriented restaurant which they've had for five years in Woodland Hills, Calif., in the San Fernando Valley.

It's a very, very tough business," he said and added: "I hope that it's something that lasts a long time and expands."