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Cameron Perkins debuts with Phillies and savors the moment

The Phillies chose the 26-year-old over Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens to replace Michael Saunders in their outfield rotation.

Cameron Perkins.
Cameron Perkins.Read more(Elizabeth Robertson/Staff Photographer)

Walking to the plate for his first major-league at-bat, Cam Perkins was awestruck by Yadier Molina's congratulatory remarks.

After the Phillies designated Michael Saunders for assignment on Tuesday, they promoted Perkins to replace him in the outfield rotation. Perkins, who is eight years younger than Molina, couldn't believe how he responded to the seven-time all-star before flying out to center field.

"Getting to hit up there and Yadi telling me congratulations," Perkins said after the 8-1 loss, "I couldn't think of a better catcher that I grew up looking up to. I think I called him 'sir' by accident, I was pretty locked in at the time. Did I really just say 'sir' to Yadier Molina? It was definitely one of my top life moments."

The 26-year old outfielder played three seasons at Purdue before the Phillies took him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. From there, Perkins spent five seasons battling his way through the organization before receiving the promotion from triple-A Lehigh Valley. The IronPigs had been playing in Pawtucket,  so a few flights later, Perkins barely arrived for the game's start.

"I didn't get as emotional as I thought I would," Perkins said. "I kept my cool, but inside I was definitely really excited. They changed our flight three or four times trying to get us here before the game. We ended up driving to Boston to catch a flight to get here in time. Honestly, it all went by in a blink of an eye."

Perkins was called up Tuesday after batting .298 with six homers and 21 RBIs this season at Lehigh Valley. In 208 at-bats for the IronPigs, Perkins posted a .388 on-base percentage, which ranked third among International League hitters.

The Phillies invited the Indianapolis native to spring training, where he batted 11 for 31 (.355) with three doubles and two home-runs.

"I want to get a look at him," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said before the game. "I saw him in the spring. He's a solid defender anywhere in the outfield. I like his approach. He's a hard-nosed player, so I'm anxious to see him play."

The Phillies used Perkins to pinch-hit in the 10th inning, and Mackanin said he expects to start Perkins on Wednesday. Both Mackanin and general manager Matt Klentak anticipate giving Perkins his fair share of at-bats at the major-league level.

With Cesar Hernandez on the disabled list and Howie Kendrick filling in at second base, Perkins will likely share playing time with Daniel Nava as the Phillies' fourth outfielder until Hernandez returns.

"I like to say that if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready," Perkins said. "Especially being on a National League team, I might hit in the second [spot], I might hit in the 10th. Whenever it's my turn to play, just being ready to help the team. Maybe it's not offensively that day, maybe it's cutting a ball off. That's just the type of player I am."