Condrey nears personal milestone

Condrey nears personal milestone

CHICAGO -- After too many commutes between the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues, Phillies reliever Clay Condrey can celebrate Sept. 1 more than most.

He just won't.

"Not at this point," he said. "Ask me again when the season's over, I may break into tears."

Though he didn't want to jinx it, Condrey will likely reach a personal goal of spending an entire season on a big league roster. With rosters expanding Monday, only an injury will keep him from appearing in games for the Phillies. He made the team out of Spring Training and has posted a 3.72 ERA in 35 games.

Last season, Condrey had five separate stints with the Phillies, shuttling from Triple-A Ottawa to wherever Philadelphia was at the moment. He joked during the season that he had enough frequent flyer miles for a trip "to the moon."

This season, Condrey's only flown on the team charter. Usually, next to him is teammate and housemate Chris Coste, who also refuses to celebrate. The Phils' backup catcher has been secure all season, but still doesn't take anything for granted.

"For me, it just means I'll have to clean out the locker next to me," Coste said, meaning he'll make room for this season's September callups.

Players like Condrey and Coste, who have combined for 1,310 games in 22 Minor League seasons, can never feel safe. Despite their day-to-day performances, it's tough to fight the paranoia that there's always somebody better ready to take their jobs.

Things can change quickly, with a bad stretch heightening that fear.

Coste's story has been told in his autobiography, "The 33-Year-Old Rookie," and Condrey's tale is quite similar. The two are good friends who share each other's successes.

They even allowed themselves to discuss the possibility of a full season together in the big leagues.

"We sit around and talk about it, but we don't want to jinx it," said Condrey. "But one of us will stop the other if it goes too far."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.