OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Actually, Greg Weissert got a good night’s sleep.
Which might be hard to believe, given what happened hours earlier in his major league debut.
With his immediate family and a few friends having flown cross-country to be there, the New York Yankees reliever hit a pair of Oakland batters with his very first two pitches in the bigs Thursday night.
No pitcher had ever started out that way in the expansion era since 1961, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
Those HBPs were sandwiched around a balk. And after a pair of one-out walks, with his last slider going to the backstop, he was pulled in the seventh inning.
All those years of waiting to make it to a mound in the majors, then that.
“I’m OK,” Weissert told The Associated Press on Friday, smiling as he stood in the Yankees clubhouse.
“I sat down and recognized last night, I looked back and saw that I was moving a little fast. I wasn’t stepping off and just taking a breath and just kind of taking it all in. I was letting it get on top of me a little bit,” the 27-year-old right-hander said. “But I’m anxious to get back out there and kind of right my wrongs and leave a better impression on everybody the next time.”
Later, back in his hotel room, Weissert pondered his night: “Just kind of replaying it in my head saying like, ‘What happened out there?’”
“I was obviously a little nervous with the anticipation of everything building up and all the years in the minor leagues, seven years, and the long inning right before, the whole buildup of it,” he said. “I didn’t take a moment to just step back and kind of realize where I was and take it all in.”
Weissert was summoned with the Yankees leading 13-1. From the first pitch he threw, it was pretty painful to watch — and painful for Oakland hitters, too.
Weissert plunked Jonah Bride with his first offering. Then he balked. After that he nailed Skye Bolt with his second pitch, prompting the A’s hitter to slam down his bat. Bolt went on the 10-day injured list Friday with a partially dislocated patella tendon in his right knee.
It didn’t get much better for the Yankees new right-hander wearing No. 85 despite a visit from the pitching coach.
Following the two walks, Weissert was done. Manager Aaron Boone came out to get him and Weissert made the exceedingly long trudge from the mound to the dugout at the Coliseum.
Even the Oakland side felt for Weissert.
“It was the perfect spot for the young man to make his debut,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said Friday. “You never know how guys are going to respond. He’s been having a great Triple-A season and he gets his first opportunity to leave an impression and it just didn’t go well. But at the end of the day, when a guy comes into a game and hits two batters, it’s highly, highly unlikely it was done with any intent.”
Weissert was charged with three runs as the AL East-leading Yankees coasted to a 13-4 win.
At least he’s now a big leaguer forever. And it took only two pitches to get into the all-time record book.
“Only up from here,” Boone said after the game. “That’s a rough one. I think it sped up on him. He acknowledged that.”
Disconsolate after his wild outing, Weissert banged his glove on the bench and took a seat all by himself at the end of the dugout, looking down.
He wasn’t alone for long.
One by one, his teammates started to wander over to offer words and taps of encouragement. Pitcher Domingo German, coach Luis Rojas and his catcher, All-Star Jose Trevino, along with former Triple-A pitching teammate Clarke Schmidt.
By the end of the inning, slugger Aaron Judge was sitting next Weissert, getting the rookie to relax.
All that support from his teammates meant the world. Weissert then met up with his parents Friday morning. His wife was also in the stands, along with a brother and sister and their families. A few friends, too, in his own personal rooting section of about 10.
As he shagged flyballs during batting practice before Friday night’s game against the Athletics, he looked a lot more relaxed.
The Yankees still believe in him.
“That was really good to hear after that situation that happened out there that everybody was still supportive and trying to give me good advice and encouraging words,” Weissert said.
Picked by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2016 draft out of Fordham in the Bronx, the Long Island product finally earned his big chance Thursday after All-Star starter Nestor Cortes went on the injured list.
With a fastball in the mid-90s mph and a slider with a lot of movement, Weissert had excelled at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season — notching a 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. He’ll be in the mix, we really like him.”
Of Weissert’s 15 pitches, only five were strikes. He was charged with three runs, leaving him with an 81.00 ERA for now.
Boone said Weissert will be out on the mound again.
“Look, it doesn’t change what we think about him,” Boone said. “Get that one out of the way.”
Weissert will be ready.
“Fresh start today,” he said. “I’m all right. I’m not too worried about it. I’m glad that first one’s out of the way. It can’t get much worse than that.”
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed.
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