After throwing several bullpen sessions and then live batting practice against Cubs hitters he took the mound on Saturday in his first big league game of any kind. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning against the Cincinnati Reds, getting three fly outs.
MESA, Ariz. -- Growing up you want to pitch in a big league game, spring training or whenever. Just the atmosphere here was so awesome. It was one of the cooler moments I’ve ever had in a baseball game. Right before I left the clubhouse heading to the field, Miguel Montero's advice was just to 'keep it simple. Don’t do too much.'
I was in the bullpen the whole game and came in the fifth inning. In about the third or fourth inning they told me I had the fifth. They gave me a little more notice because of a starter’s routine, I threw a few more pitches out there. I was calmer than I was expecting. Having [Kyle] Schwarber as my catcher was comforting as well. He knew what kind of a pitcher I was. I wasn’t as nervous as I was expecting, just because of the comfort level of the people around me.
It was exciting to get out on the grass from the bullpen to the mound, but I had one job to do when I got out there, to execute. There were over 15,000 fans. I’ve never had that for any game, high school, college or the minors. It was a spectacle looking around and seeing the whole lawn covered with fans. It was awesome.
My heart rate was going before I got into the game, but once you get on the mound it’s almost a calming that comes.
I was just trying to get a feel for things being back in a real game with hitters; more so than reading swings and stuff like that. It was just about executing pitches, nothing more. I got the first guy on a fly ball to right on a sinker that ran in a little bit. I was happy with the sequence. Getting that first guy was another calming factor. Then I threw two-seam which was hit hard to center, thankfully Albert Almora was there to make a great catch. I knew when it left my hand it had a chance to be a hit. I was hoping it didn’t catch the gap, then I see Almora just take off and track it down. To watch him the way he was going after it I knew he was going to get there. Playing with him at Tennessee it’s hard not to expect that kind of play with him; you almost anticipate that happening every time. It’s nice having him back there.
After two outs I knew just keep it simple and I got a fly out to left with a changeup to a lefty. Overall the outing was exactly what I wanted for the first time out there. It was the prototypical sinker-ball outing, I gave up three fly balls.
So I walk off and there’s a lot of high five’s for Almora and I’m joking with him about tripping at the end of that catch. It’s fun to experience the first time out with all those guys I played with in the minors. [Manager] Joe [Maddon] was one of the first people to meet me at the top of the steps, then I went through the line of high five’s.
Next time out I hope to throw a couple innings, but this first time was just great and everyone was really supportive.