Art Warren is back in Ohio, but only for a short visit, and he is making the most of his time off after fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing Major League Baseball.
Warren was called up by the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 10 and made his Major League debut two days later, pitching 1/3 of an inning of relief against the Cincinnati Reds.
“It was so fast,” said Warren in an interview last week. “I got out there and I heard my walk-up song (“Start Over” by Flame) and I got goosebumps. Then it started to set in.
“I had heard that song so many times, but this time it was different,” Warren continued. “I got on the mound and I never left eye contact with my catcher. I had tunnel vision.”
Warren walked the first batter he faced and gave up a single to the next before coaxing a fly ball to end the inning, and his debut.
After that Warren, a 2010 graduate of Napoleon High School and the first player from Napoleon to play Major League Baseball, settled down and was lights out for the Mariners.
He pitched scoreless innings of relief against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 20 and 22, recording his first two strikeouts in his first game at Baltimore.
“I struck out Chris Davis,” said Warren. “That guy is huge in the box.”
Warren had another scoreless inning of relief against the Houston Astros Sept. 25, registering another strikeout.
On Sept. 27, at home, against the Oakland A’s, Warren earned his first Major League victory. Pitching in the ninth inning of a tied game, Warren set down the three batters he faced and the Mariners scored a run in the bottom of the inning to give him the win.
“I stayed in the dugout and was watching the game and Justin Dunn, who was called up with me, said we’re going to get you this run and get you your fist win,” said Warren. “Sure enough JP (Crawford) got a walk-off hit and as we were chasing him around the field it hit me ... I won a Major League baseball game.”
Warren closed out his season with the Mariners with a final scoreless inning of relief Sept. 29, striking out two more batters.
In six appearances, Warren did not allow a run in 5 1/3 innings. He gave up two hits and walked two, while striking out five. Warren finished the season with a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP.
With the season behind him, Warren said it still hasn’t really sunk in everything that happened in the three-plus weeks he was with the Mariners.
“I am waiting for that moment,” said Warren, who is planning a vacation to Hawaii. “I think it might happen in Hawaii, when I can sit on the beach and just relax. It just hasn’t happened yet.”
What he is very aware of is all the support he received, from his family flying from different parts of the country to be in Seattle for his debut, to his former high school coach and other friends from Napoleon visiting him when Seattle played in Pittsburgh and all the texts and phone calls he received.
I had a lot of family fly in to Seattle,” said Warren. “I had 30-plus people take a bus from Ashland (where Warren played college baseball) to see me in Pittsburgh. All of those people and so many more. It was amazing.
“I went to dinner with a former teammate and his family who live in Pittsburgh,” continued Warren. “They fed me a home cooked meal and as we were sitting around the table we started talking about how crazy this all is. It feels like all of northwest Ohio was rooting for me.”
Warren said he really didn’t have a favorite moment, but recalled seeing Trevor Bauer warming up in the bullpen for the Reds the day he was called up and Sonny Gray the next day.
“These were guys I watched on television all the time,” said Warren.
He also pointed to being on the field when Felix Hernandez, the longtime Mariner pitcher, played his final game.
“Before the game, they played his song, ‘I’m the Man,’ and he went to the mound by himself, none of the other players went out for warm ups,” said Warren. “Then his catcher went out and they warmed up. That was one of the coolest times. I feel blessed just to have seen that.”
The Mariners have made no official decision on Warren’s future, but his performance in September certainly seems to warrant an invitation to big league Spring Training.
Warren, who was drafted by the Mariners in the 23rd round of the 2015 draft, said that decision is out of his hands, but he will be prepared for whatever the Mariners decide because he can’t wait to get back to the Majors.
“I did well, I did my job,” said Warren. “I am going to come into Spring Training with the attitude it is time to win the job.”