NEW YORK -- They've come a long way together and separately, and both Dave Trembley and J.R. House can appreciate the disparate paths they've taken to the Major Leagues. The Orioles' manager has known House -- who was called up to big leagues on Monday -- for almost a decade, and he said the backup catcher has always done things the right way.
"J.R. has always been very complimentary to me," he said. "And I know his family. But he's not here because of me."
Trembley first met House in 1999, right after the youngster had entered professional baseball. They met by fate, largely because of their involvement in baseball and their roots in neighboring Florida communities. Trembley, who used to run baseball camps in Daytona Beach, Fla., would often enlist local youngsters like House to help him.
Their paths diverged in the summer months, with Trembley going to manage Minor League affiliates and House attempting to make the rise to the Major Leagues. But every winter, they'd work together again back at home. And this year, the transformation was complete, because Trembley was able to repay the favor by working at House's camp.
"That was really amazing for me to do that," he said. "J.R. House -- and I know this kind of stuff gets said [a lot] -- is one of the finest young men I've ever met. He is a man of principle [and] very, very strong in faith."
That faith has aided House over the years. The former fifth-round Draft pick tore through Pittsburgh's organizational chain and established himself as a top prospect before injuries began to weigh him down. House has had reconstructive surgeries on his throwing elbow and shoulder, and he's also had operations to repair a hernia and an abdominal tear.
He gave up baseball at one point to return to college and attempt to resurrect his football career, but decided ultimately to give baseball another try. House signed with Baltimore last November thinking he'd have a chance to play for Trembley at Triple-A Norfolk, but the veteran coach was given a job with the parent club and later promoted to the manager's post.
Now, they're in the same spot -- the pinnacle of their chosen sport -- at the same time.
"It's been great," said House. "Just to see the success that Dave has had, being from my hometown in Daytona Beach and doing camps together in the offseason. Seeing him come up here and turn the ball club around has been awesome."
"I think he knows that he's never going to get cut any slack," added Trembley. "I'm going to treat them all the same, but it's nice that maybe I have a little more background on him. I know where he's come from. The guy's had some surgeries and he could've quit. I know how hard he's worked in the offseasons and I've thrown him a lot of [batting practice]."
House, who was hitting .295 with 10 home runs and 63 RBIs for Norfolk, almost never made it to Baltimore. He signed a contract with an opt-out clause and attempted to trigger it in early July, only to find out that he'd missed a deadline. Now, he's got a chance to play in the big leagues for somebody who's pulled for him at every step along the way.
"It worked out, so it's a good thing," he said. "I could be sent down tomorrow. I don't know. If I see my name in the lineup card, I'm happy. I know I got to play that day. But I'll just take it in and continue to work."
Countdown: The Orioles have one more day to sign top Draft pick Matt Wieters, a process that's beginning to look more doubtful with every minute that passes. The Orioles need to reach agreement with Wieters -- who's reportedly looking for a contract well above the suggested slot -- and conduct a physical examination well before midnight.
Wieters, the fifth overall pick in the June First-Year Player Draft, is advised by super-agent Scott Boras and can return for one more year to Georgia Tech University. If the Orioles are unable to reach agreement, they'd be compensated with a high pick in next year's draft -- but they'd lose the right to negotiate with Wieters for good.
"The talks are still ongoing," said Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations. "We'll be working all the way down to the deadline."
Still streaking: First baseman Kevin Millar has reached base safely in 43 straight games -- which is six short of Baltimore's franchise record, set by former Oriole and current Yankees broadcaster Ken Singleton in 1977.
Quotable: "You pull for him. It's that simple. There should be more guys like that," Trembley, on House
Coming up: The Orioles and Yankees will play a matinee series finale on Wednesday at 1:05 ET, a game that pits staff ace Erik Bedard against New York's up-and-coming phenon Phil Hughes.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.