OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — From the very first game, it was painful to watch New York Yankees reliever Greg Weissert’s major league debut.
Painful for the Oakland players, too.
He struck out a batter with his first offering. Then he refused. He then nailed a guy with his second pitch, prompting the A’s hitter to hit his bat.
It didn’t get much better from there for the new right-hander wearing No. 85 either.
And after a pair of walks, with Weissert’s final pitch going to the backstop, it was over. Pulled by manager Aaron Boone with the Yankees leading 13-2 in the seventh inning, Weissert made the extra-long drive from the mound to the dugout at the Coliseum.
Every pitcher’s worst debut nightmare. At least now he’s a major leaguer forever – and the AL East-leading Yankees are still going 13-4.
“Only from here,” Boone said after the game. “This is tough. I think it sped him up. He recognized it.”
Frustrated after his frantic outing, the 27-year-old Weissert slammed his glove on the bench and sat alone at the end of the board, looking down.
He wasn’t alone for long.
One by one, his teammates began wandering over to offer words and pats of encouragement. Pitcher Domingo German, coach Luis Rojas and his catcher, All-Star Jose Trevino. At the end of the inning, slugger Aaron Judge was sitting next to Weissert, putting the rookie at ease.
“Just say, ‘Hey, take a deep breath, just play catch,'” said 12-year veteran Josh Donaldson, who had three hits and scored four runs.
“We’ve all had that big moment in the league where it starts to speed us up and that’s OK. it’s going to happen. But him being able to overcome that the next time he gets a chance will be important,” the 2015 AL MVP said.
Weissert was unavailable for comment.
Selected by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2016 draft out of Fordham in the Bronx, the Long Island product got his big chance Thursday after All-Star first baseman Nestor Cortes went on the injured list.
With a mid-90s fastball and a slider with plenty of movement, Weissert has excelled at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season — 1.76 ERA in 40 games, with 67 strikeouts in 46 innings .
Boone praised him before the game, saying: “He’s going to get some opportunities. It’s going to be in the mix, we really like it.”
Boone added: “He’s come through our system the last couple of years, he got to Triple-A last year after a great year, he had a phenomenal year down there this year.”
Hours later came Weissert’s chance.
It turned out to be incredibly forgettable – not that he’ll ever be able to forget it.
With his first pitch, he hit Jonah Bride on the leg. Weissert then appeared to lose focus and moved while on the tire, causing him to get stuck. His next pitch was a slider that hit Skye Bolt around the knee — Bolt threw his bat to the ground.
After retiring Nick Allen on a flyball, Weissert walked Tony Kemp on four pitches. On a full count, a slider to Vimael Machin went into the backstop for a bases-loaded walk.
Of his 15 pitches, only five were strikes. He was charged with three runs, leaving him with an ERA of 81.00 for now.
Boone said Weissert will be back on the mound.
“Look, it doesn’t change what we think about him,” Boone said. “Get it out of the way.”
AP baseball writer Ben Walker contributed.
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