It was a message from the big club -- turn that car around and get your stuff. We need you for Wednesday's game.
"That call is always so unexpected," Mathis said. "It's always so exciting. You just never expect to hear that, no matter how many times you've heard it before."
The Rangers announced before Wednesday's game against the Yankees that they had called up Mathis to join their bullpen and optioned reliever Warner Madrigal to Oklahoma City. Right-hander Willie Eyre was moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL to clear room for Mathis on the 40-man roster.
Mathis, a righty, had been the RedHawks' best starting pitcher this season, going 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 10 starts, including two complete games. He pitched in eight games with Texas last season, including four starts, going 2-1 with a 6.85 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.
The move became necessary after Madrigal, usually a short reliever, threw 39 pitches in Tuesday's 12-3 loss to the Yankees and would therefore be unavailable for the next couple of days. He allowed three runs in one inning and has seen his ERA balloon to 10.13 in eight innings.
With five games remaining on their road trip to New York and Boston, the Rangers felt they needed another pitcher in the bullpen who could contribute against two of the best offensive teams in the American League. Mathis last pitched on May 30 and could be used as a long man, making him a perfect fit for the club.
"Madrigal extended himself last night, and he's going to be down a few days, and we need a fresh arm," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We've still got two games here, and we've still got three games to go in Boston, so we just needed a fresh arm. We brought in Mathis because he can give us length."
Immediately after learning that he was joining the Rangers, Mathis quickly collected his things and tried to get some sleep -- to no avail. He said he managed to sleep for no more than 90 minutes before boarding a 6:30 a.m. CT flight to New York.
Mathis was at Yankee Stadium -- in uniform and available to pitch -- for Wednesday's game, concluding what was a hectic day.
But he would do it all over again, just to get that call.
"Trust me, it's worth being tired," Mathis said.
Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.