About three weeks ago I received news that I was being promoted to the High Class-A Salem (Va.) Red Sox.

The promotion came as a complete surprise to me since there was about a month left in the season and I was focused on finishing the season strong with the Class-A Greenville (N.C.) Drive.

I have recently gone from pitching as a reliever to a starter, then back to relieving because of injuries on our pitching staff. While I had plenty of experience in college as a starter, I only had four starts in Greenville before being called up.

There are minor-league teams throughout the contiguous 48 states. From Portland, Maine, to Bakersfield, and everywhere in between there are thousands of minor league ballplayers pursuing their dream of playing Major League Baseball.

Being called up is a very exciting moment for many reasons.

It is the epitome of delayed gratification. Month after month of playing games, working out, shagging batting practice, late-night truck stop meals, rain delays, aches and pains, low pay, all while being thousands of miles from home makes for a tough environment to excel.

It takes mental discipline to remain steadfast on your goals while sitting in a hotel in Zebulon, N.C. (as I write this column). In each town we play there is a buzz around town about "the boys of summer." It is easy to become short sighted about your goals.

My call up has been a very exciting time, but it only creates more motivation for me to work hard.

"It is paying off!"

"Push! Push!"

"Stay thirsty!"

Just like anyone else, I have goals I want to achieve in my field of work. A promotion doesn't come from constantly thinking about the promotion but from doing your current job the best you can each day. What you did yesterday isn't good enough today and what you did today isn't good enough tomorrow.

Being in High Class A has already been an eye-opening experience. My first outing was good, but I saw some quality pitches get hit ... hard. It made me realize how much more I needed to improve.

We lost the game.

My second outing was ugly, but resulted in the team getting a win. I gave up 11 hits and five runs in 41⁄3 innings. For those not familiar with baseball stats, this is pretty poor. We won the game and the series by winning the game.

Friday was my third outing and I made a huge jump in pitching at this level. I threw six innings, gave up four hits and allowed no earned runs. We won, 8-2.

My call up to Salem has been a rewarding step in my career. While I am excited to be here, this is just one of many steps left to get to the top.

My last start of the season will be Wednesday at home.

Finish strong!

McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher now in the Boston Red Sox minor league system. His column appears here weekly.