Dream Come True! Nacogdoches Native Makes Major League Debut
It's not the type of statistics that will make the sports headlines -
5 innings pitched, 2 runs allowed, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts, and one walk. But for Grayson Rodriguez from Nacogdoches, Texas, this was huge and heroic.
The former Central Heights Blue Devils hurler went from being in the locker room for the Norfolk Tides to being on a plane bound for D/FW to being on the pitcher's mound at Globe Life Field making his Major League debut just three hours from home. All this in about 36 hours.
How do you restrain the myriad of emotions when you toe the rubber to face your first batter while hearing the loud contingent of family and friends who made the short drive from East Texas?
The answer is...you don't. You try your best to focus on the basics, the batter, the mechanics...but, it was obvious that Grayson was feeling the pressure. He had control issues with his secondary pitches which led to his surrendering two first-inning runs.
But, he relied on his blazing fastball to get out of trouble on several occasions and then he settled into the flow of the game. Grayson would not give up another run during his next four innings. It wasn't the final stats, it was how the 23-year-old battled, I mean battled hard, through his nerves, through his control issues, through it all to end up with what most are calling a STRONG Major League debut.
The Baltimore rookie went head-to-head with one of the best pitchers in the big leagues, Jake DeGrom. When Grayson left the game after the fifth inning, the Rangers and Orioles were tied at 2. Texas would eventually win the game, Rodriguez would come away with a no-decision.
The last time I teared up like this was when I watched Kevin Costner play catch with his dad in 'Field of Dreams'...dang it!
So, now, it's on to Baltimore where the Orioles are scheduled to have their home opener on Thursday against the Yankees, although the weather may put a damper on that.
What does the short-term future hold for Grayson? It seems that he will have a spot in the starting rotation for a least a couple of weeks. The injured pitcher who he is replacing has been placed on the 15-day injured list. Beyond that...who knows.
What's the sport's cliche? We'll just take it one game at a time and see what happens.