DENVER -- The phone call and the call-up came earlier than Eric Young Jr. expected.
The 24-year-old minor league speedster was awakened Tuesday with word that he was needed in the Colorado Rockies' lineup. Rookie center fielder Dexter Fowler was headed to the disabled list with a deep bone bruise on his right knee.
"I got the call from the manager and I knew something was up. I don't normally get a call from him. It was 9:30 this morning and came when I was asleep," Young said. "It woke me up in a hurry."
Young was at the plate leading off the bottom of the first inning when his father arrived at Coors Field after hopping a flight from Houston, where he works for ESPN.
He got to see his son's first at-bat and in the sixth, he watched him single to left for his first major league hit.
"This was better than anything I ever accomplished in my career," the elder Young told the Associated Press. "I had a lot of great moments but as a dad to see your kid reach his dream of playing in the big leagues and to see him get his first hit with the same team I played for, that tops everything."
A second baseman by trade just like his father, who famously hit a home run in the Rockies' inaugural home game at the old Mile High Stadium in 1993, Young has been playing center field this month for the Sky Sox.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy inserted him into the lineup as the leadoff hitter and center fielder Tuesday night when the Rockies opened a crucial three-game series against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
"He's quite an asset at the top of the lineup if he reaches base," Tracy said. "If he reaches base, I think you'd be hard-pressed to come up with the name of a guy that's faster than he is. I realize this is a little bit of a baptism by fire."
Yet, Tracy said the Rockies liked how Young adjusted to playing the outfield this month in the minors.
"And that's obviously why they had been playing him there some, because this is a catalyst type player, this is a high-energy type player that can do some very special things for a lineup," Tracy said. "But I also think that part of being a good offensive player is feeling comfortable with what you're doing defensively."
Young isn't your typical wide-eyed rookie. He has been following the Rockies since his father played for them from 1993-97.
"I know a lot about this team. I was in the stands at Mile High Stadium when my dad hit the home run in his first at-bat there. I've followed the club," Young said. "I'm ready to come is and see what goes on. I'm ready to do what I can for the club."
Young had been hoping for a September call-up but the Rockies ran into some trouble with their outfield this week.
Eaton was the winning pitcher in the Rockies' dramatic 14-inning victory against San Francisco on Monday night, when Fowler fouled a fastball off his right knee and Gonzalez had to bat despite being unable to swing because of a deep cut in his right hand.
Fowler played a big role in the Rockies' recovery from a 4-1 deficit in the 14th.
He couldn't leave the game after getting hurt while leading off the bottom half because the Rockies were almost out of players. He drew a full-count walk and then hobbled to second base when Chris Iannetta singled to center. After that, he could afford to trot as Troy Tulowitzki and Eaton both drew walks.
Ryan Spilborghs followed with the first walkoff grand slam in Rockies history, ending what Tracy called the most exciting game in his 33-year career in professional baseball.
It gave the Rockies a four-game lead over the Giants in the NL wild-card race and pulled them within three games of the Dodgers, whom they trailed by 15½ games in early June.
The euphoria quickly evaporated with the realization that the resurgent Rockies, who lost ace Aaron Cook to an injured pitching shoulder last week, had more moves to make.
Fowler said an MRI and X-rays taken Tuesday showed he didn't have a more serious injury but he was on crutches in the clubhouse and said he expected to miss up to three weeks.
"I was in pain last night, I couldn't run," Fowler said. "I tried to run to second and almost collapsed. I can't put weight on it right now. I have to stay off it."