NEW YORK (AP) – Trevor Rogers’debut was only about half what he expected.
“A lot of jitters,” the Miami Marlins left-hander recalled. “And a lot of cardboard cutouts.”
Like the other 211 players who made their players are back in the majors, and all those cutouts have been replaced by limited-capacity crowds that are still some of the biggest those rookies have seen.debuts in 2020, Rogers got an unusual introduction to baseball’s top level – a pandemic-shortened season when fans were almost entirely banned from the ballpark. Now, many of those
“It has been amazing,” said fellow Marlin’s youngster Jazz Chisholm Jr. “Everyday for me because I’ve never had the chance to play with fans in the big leagues.”
Chisholm and Rogers broke in with Miami last season, part of an up-and-coming club that overcame a season-stallingto end a 16-year playoff drought.
Rogers admits the fans momentarily threw him off his game. The 23-year-old made his first start against St. on April 5 April 5 and trailed 3-0 after his first inning on the mound. Mechanical issues were part of the problem, but he acknowledged having those debut jitters again with 4,605 fans at Marlins Park. “I was overeager, for sure,” he said. “Hearing the noise of the crowd, the talking, the chit-chatting, the cheering and
booing, and all that good stuff, it was something I had to get used to again. It got the heart rate going a little faster.” A first-round draft pick in 2017, Rogers adjusted just fine in his next turn – a Sunday matchup against two-time Cy Young Award winner. He outpitched the Mets’ ace in a 3-0 victory, aided by a stunning homer from Chisholm off deGrom’s 100 mph fastball at the letters. Chisholm’s eagerness to perform for an audience isn’t much of a surprise with his bright blue hair and elegant jewelry.
“I love having fans out there,” the infielder said. “I love hearing them; I love the compliments; I love everything the fans bring to the game, the energy. It does it all for me. It gives me goosebumps getting ready to go out there and play a game.”
leagues. After filling stadiums with cardboard likenesses of fans , teams have begun allowing limited fan access, with an average crowd of roughly 10,000 per game. For players coming from the minors, those crowds are already about as big as they’ve seen – Triple-A parks generally average 5,000-9,000 patrons per game.
For some, the return has been well-timed.
Yermín Mercedes has been a breakout star with the, becoming the first player since at least 1900 to open a season with eight straight hits – over his first four major league starts.
The 28-year-old has seemingly cemented himself as a fan favorite in less than two weeks. He’s been greeted by huge cheers when he comes to bat, and he posed for photos near Chicago’s dugoutwith a fan wearing a custom No. 73 jersey with “Terminator” stitched on the back.
“They love me right now,” Mercedes said, adding: “I’m feeling comfortable; I’m feeling great because I know I have people behind me.” Those crowds are the easy motivation for players trying to work their, like Colorado Rockies right-hander Ryan Castellani. The 25-year-old was called off the taxi squad for his first central on August 8, August 8, and delivered four against Seattle.
“From a selfish perspective, it was awesome,” he told The Associated Press. “I mean, I love getting called up pitching; it was a great game. But from a family perspective, I would say it was a little disappointment.” Castellani pitched in 10 games, all bittersweet because his family couldn’t come to see him in person. Since high school, he’s been with his wife since high school, meaning she’s been with him throughout his career. But she had to watch from afar like the rest of his family.
He collected souvenirs, including at least a half-dozen balls from hisof weeks later. He distributed those to family, friends, and significant others, including Rockies assistant director of player development Chris Forbes, scouting and drafting him.
Castellani is working out at Colorado’s alternate training site, waiting for hisleague chance. He’s grateful to have had something of a soft open last year – “It was just baseball, there weren’t any distractions,” he said – but he expects it to feel different the next he toes a central league mound.
“That first game in front of, like, a huge crowd, huge ballpark, having family in the stands, that’ll be, I feel like, just as good, maybe even better than my debut,” he said.
AP Sports Writers Pat Graham in Denver and Steven Wine in Miami contributed.
Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Sign up for Daily Newsletters
Copyright © 2021 The, LLC.