CINCINNATI -- On Sunday, Cincinnati's Mike Leake will make his Major League debut. The right-hander will become the 21st player since the First-Year Player Draft began in 1965 to play in the big leagues without appearing in a Minor League game.
Xavier Nady was the 20th.
Nady, now with the Cubs, was the San Diego Padres' second-round pick in the 2000 Draft out of the University of California. That year, he was added to the big league roster on Sept. 17.
"I didn't sign until the end of September," Nady said on Friday. "[The callup] was more to get to know the guys, the front-office people. I was there for a week and got one pinch-hit. I was a nervous wreck."
As Nady tells it, he was "back where I belonged the next year in [Class] A ball." He spent the 2001 and '02 seasons in the Minor Leagues.
"At least [Leake] made the team and deserved it. That's pretty impressive. I was more of a courtesy callup for a week."
The quick promotion caught him off guard.
"I wasn't doing a whole lot, and I was waiting and didn't think I was going to sign until later and, boom, we came to terms and they flew me down to San Diego," Nady said. "They asked some of the older guys if they were OK with it, and everyone was fine."
The Padres added so many players in September that year that they built makeshift lockers out of wood and installed some of them in the trainer's room.
"I tried to keep my mouth shut and I got the one at-bat," he said of his lone appearance on Sept. 30 as a pinch-hitter against the Dodgers. "I was so nervous, I couldn't see the first two pitches."
"I got a single up the middle," he said. "It was a dream come true -- you work your whole life and then you're there. One of the best parts of the situation is I got a hit and you're overwhelmed, you're standing at first base and the next guy, Damian Jackson, hits a double off the left-field wall and I've got to score from first. I'd sat around for a week -- and I got waved home. I had to slide home. I didn't get to really enjoy the moment."
Of course, the veterans on the Padres reminded Nady it isn't that easy to hit in the big leagues, but that big league single is in his career stats, right before he was assigned to Class A Lake Elsinore.
"I remember running around those bases saying, 'Wow,'" Nady said. "[And thinking], 'Now you have to get back.'"
Piniella going with best lineup
CINCINNATI -- Rookie Tyler Colvin made his second consecutive start for the Cubs on Friday, and Lou Piniella hinted that whoever plays the best among the outfielders will get the most at-bats.
Colvin made his first start on Thursday and delivered with his first Major League home run in the Cubs' 2-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. Xavier Nady, slowed this spring while he rehabbed from his second Tommy John surgery, made his first start on Friday in right field.
Piniella has to try to get enough at-bats for Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome, as well as Nady and Colvin.
"Once we get a few of these guys at-bats, we'll probably just play Nady against left-hand pitchers, as soon as we start playing left-handers," Piniella said. "Then we can get Colvin in there from time to time.
"Look, it's not the easiest thing in the world to do," Piniella said. "We're doing the best we can."
Piniella has said he has to get Colvin at-bats if he's going to keep the outfielder on the roster. The Cubs' 2006 No. 1 Draft pick ranked third in the Major Leagues in batting average this spring with a .468 average.
"Invariably what will happen is the guys who are doing the best are the guys who will get the bulk of the playing time," Piniella said. "That's the way it was when I played, and that's the way it is still. We'll get everybody in there and get them some at-bats and go from there."
When Soto hits, he'll be in lineup
CINCINNATI -- Geovany Soto has to hit. It's that simple.
Cubs catcher Koyie Hill made his second start on Friday night, but the reasoning behind that is Lou Piniella wants Soto matched up with Carlos Zambrano on Saturday. With the short turnaround, the Cubs wanted Soto to get enough rest.
Still, Soto is 1-for-6 in the two games he has played in, and the Cubs have scored nine runs in three games so far.
"I like the way [Hill] calls a ballgame," Piniella said Friday. "He's a really good defensive catcher. When a team isn't scoring many runs, the more defense you have on the field, the better.
"Is [Hill] going to catch more? We need Soto to hit, I've said that before. That's the key to this whole thing is how well Soto swings the bat, and we'll leave it at that."
Soto, who batted .285 in 2008 but just .218 last year, has been working with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.
Zambrano will be matched up against Cincinnati's Aaron Harang for the seventh time, and the Reds right-hander is 4-2 with a 4.30 ERA while Big Z is 1-5 with a 6.37 ERA.
"Most of the time, it comes out Harang," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.