His rock star run at Richmond is over. As John Rocker prepares to rejoin the Atlanta Braves in Pittsburgh, even he can't help but wonder how he'll be received by the same teammates who were thrilled to see him go.
Rocker was called up by the Braves on Tuesday night, apparently to replace Rudy Seanez on the roster after the reliever felt tightness in his right arm.
"I don't know if it was because Rudy got hurt," Richmond pitching coach Mike Alvarez said after announcing the recall. "They didn't give us details."
The move comes just eight days after the Braves assigned the struggling left-handed closer to Richmond, ostensibly to work on his control. But some Atlanta teammates had seen enough of his erratic behavior.
News of the recall also followed Rocker's third, and least impressive, outing for the Triple-A Braves. He allowed two hits and a run in an inning against Toledo and failed to strike out a batter after whiffing six in two prior innings.
Rocker did not speak after the game, spending more than an hour in the clubhouse while stadium security worked to clear reporters from the tunnel outside the Braves' locker room. When he emerged, he sped off with a female companion.
But Alvarez said Rocker earned the return trip to the big leagues with his pitching, and that he thanked the Braves for helping him during his six-day stay.
"I don't think anybody likes to be sent down ... certainly not from the major leagues to Triple-A," Al boos barely audible.
It was a hero's welcome, one tempered only moderately by consecutive singles by Billy McMillon and Gabe Alvarez to start the inning. Two long fly balls brought McMillon home before Chris Wakeland bounced into a game-ending forceout.
Then, it was on to Pittsburgh for Rocker, the exiled reliever who can only hope the first-place Braves will be as happy to see him as he is to see them.