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Paterson makes Diamondback roster

Ex-McMinnville, OSU hurler: 'Unbelievable'
by: EZRA SHAW Former McMinnville High and Oregon State pitcher Joe Paterson has landed a bullpen role with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

MESA, Ariz. - Joe Paterson is a major-leaguer.

The former McMinnville High and Oregon State pitcher got the word Wednesday morning from manager Kirk Gibson that he had made the opening-day roster for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Paterson will be in uniform Friday when the Diamondbacks begin the season at Colorado.

'Unbelievable,' said the 6-1, 210-pound left-hander, who turns 25 in May. 'I'm excited to get out there and start pitching.'

The decision on Paterson went down to the wire. Paterson pitched in the final two Arizona exhibition games Monday and Tuesday - final tryout sessions as Diamondback brass put the finishing touches to its 25-man roster.

Paterson was 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in a team-high 13 appearances this season. He gave up three of his six earned runs in one outing but was effective in his other outings, striking out 12 with four walks and nine hits in 10 innings.

As the only southpaw out of the Arizona bullpen, Paterson will be called upon as a situational pitcher against left-handed hitters.

'They haven't told me that,' Paterson said, 'but I would guess that's what my role will be.'

On Tuesday, Paterson entered a game against the Chicago Cubs in the fifth inning, with runners on the corners, two outs and left-hander Carlos Pena at the plate. On his first pitch, Paterson plunked Pena, loading the bases. On the next pitch - to slugger Alfonse Soriano - Paterson balked in a run. Then he struck out Soriano.

'Didn't get the lefty,' Paterson said, 'but I guess it worked out all right.'

A 10th-round draft pick by San Francisco in 2007, Paterson moved up the Giants' farm chain from Rookie ball to Triple-A, going 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 54 1/3 innings with Fresno last season. In December, he was selected by Arizona in the Rule 5 draft, giving him a veritable opportunity to make the Diamondbacks' roster.

During his one bad outing this spring, Paterson said he learned a valuable lesson.

'You're trying to make the team real bad, and you get a little adversity, and you overthrow and get yourself in more trouble,' he said. 'Next time a situation like that comes around, I'll just keep throwing and be myself.'

Paterson is a Cinderella story who, six years ago, was an unlikely major-league candidate. After a solid but not spectacular prep career at McMinnville, Paterson enjoyed a good freshman season at Linfield in 2005. He aspired for more, though, and while playing American Legion ball that summer - among his teammates was Brett Casey, son of Oregon State coach Pat - he lobbied for a chance to play for the Beavers.

'I called (Casey and assistant coach Marty Lees) several times,' Paterson recalled. 'It was a dream of mine to play at Oregon State. I kept bugging them and, fortunately, I threw well at the right time.'

Paterson joined the OSU program as an invited walk-on the following fall and became an important part of the pitching staff that paved the way for back-to-back College World Series crowns for the Beavers in 2006 and '07.

'My whole college experience - at both Linfield and Oregon State - was unbelievable,' Paterson said. 'I'm very blessed to have been able to play at both schools. Scott Carnahan and Scott Brosius were great at Linfield. Pat Casey is good as they come, and my pitching coach (Dan Spencer, now at Texas Tech) was the best.'

Paterson was on pins and needles the last few days as he sweated out whether or not he would make the big club.

'I kind of got thrown into the fire, and there was a lot of pressure,' he said. 'It was a new experience for me, but I feel good about what I accomplished.'

Now he's a Diamondback.

'I love this organization, and now I'm getting to do what every kid dreams about,' he said. 'My window of opportunity is now, and I've been able to climb through it.

'The next couple of weeks are going to be kind of frantic, but then I'll be able to settle in and see what I can do.'