Prospect Freeman thrilled to join Reds in homestand

CINCINNATI -- Reliever Justin Freeman was on Triple-A Louisville's road trip at Columbus when he found out Monday morning that he was going to the big leagues for the first time.

"It was a nice wakeup call," Freeman said.

Freeman was summoned to take the roster spot of rotation ace Johnny Cueto, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lat muscle.

After that, Freeman made the nearly two-hour drive down Interstate 71 to Great American Ball Park.

"I was going under the speed limit. I didn't want to wreck the rental car," Freeman said. "And everyone was calling me. ... My phone wouldn't stop going off. I had to take it easy and get on the right side of the road."

A native and resident of Macon, Ga., the 26-year-old Freeman had a 1.80 ERA in four appearances with one walk and six strikeouts over five innings in Triple-A this year.

During Spring Training, Freeman was in big league camp as a non-roster invitee, but he missed time with a shoulder injury. He made two appearances in spring games for the Reds at the end of March.

"I know I liked his stuff in Spring Training," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was hurt in Spring Training, but then he pitched against the Diamondbacks in the exhibition game. And he looked real good in the exhibition game. And I talked to [Double-A Pensacola pitching coach] Tom Brown about him, who had him last year. Tom said he could pitch."

For Pensacola last season, Freeman had a 2.91 ERA in a Southern League-leading 57 appearances. That earned him the invitation to big league camp this spring.

"It didn't come to reality until last year," Freeman said. "I've been preparing my whole life. But you say you can prepare for it, but when you get called up, you don't even know what to say."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.