After 13 years in the minors, 33-year-old Drew Maggi made his long-awaited MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Maggi, who was recalled Sunday from Double-A Altoona, entered the game late in the eighth inning to hit Andrew McCutchen with Pittsburgh leading 8-1.
- He received a standing ovation from the PNC Park crowd before hitting Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia.
- The utility infielder played in 1,155 minor league games in 13 seasons.
The Pirates recalled Maggi from the Double A on Sunday after placing Bryan Reynolds on the mourners list. Maggi has spent the last two games on the bench.
When Reynolds was activated on Wednesday, outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba was demoted to Triple A. It meant Maggi had more time to fulfill his dream of batting in the big leagues after playing 1,155 minor league games in 13 seasons.
Ahead of Wednesday’s game, manager Derek Shelton said he wanted to get Maggi in for a game but gave no guarantees.
“My commitment, and I think Drew understands that, is to the 25 guys in this clubhouse,” Shelton said. “If we find a good place where we think he can help us win a game, he will play.”
When the Pirates took a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning on Wednesday, Maggi had a good feeling.
“I started thinking, ‘This is your night,'” Maggi said. “Guys started hitting, we started rallying, rolling, scoring. I took off the jersey, trying to feel how cold it was. I probably cleaned my glasses 45 times. I have to be clean for this at-bat. — beer temple
The Pirates put the game away in the seventh inning as they battled to make it 8-0. In the dugout, bench coach Don Kelly and batting coach Andy Haines began pushing for Maggi.
“I was like, ‘Don’t talk about this until we’ve finished the eighth,'” Shelton said. “As we kept adding (running), I was like, ‘Okay, we’re going to be in a situation where we can do this. “”
Designated hitter Andrew McCutchen was scheduled to finish second in the eighth. When Shelton went to speak with McCutchen, the veteran already had his hoodie on and signaled he was done for the night.
“I think if I wouldn’t have told Cutch (to make way for Maggi), Cutch probably would have told me,” Shelton said.
Shelton turned and spotted Maggi.
“He just looked at me and said, ‘Are you ready?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘You knock,’ Maggi said. “It was kind of like, ‘It’s your time, so let’s go.’ I liked the way he did it. — beer temple
Umpire Jeff Nelson moved away from home plate to give Maggi more time to enjoy the moment. The crowd of 12,152 began chanting Maggi’s name.
“It was like a full house,” Maggi said. “It was crazy. I didn’t know if I was supposed to take off my helmet or what. It was the coolest thing that ever happened to me.”
Vesia’s first pitch was a 94 mph fastball to the top inside edge of the strike zone. Maggi whipped it high and hard on the third base line.
“I knew straight away it was a foul, but I was happy with the result,” Maggi said. “I told people for a long time that I didn’t care where it was, I was swinging from that first pitch. If I hadn’t, I would have regretted it. »
A pitch clock violation put Maggi down in the 0-2 count.
“No comment there,” Maggi said with a wry smile. “Yes, it was hard.”
Maggi fouled a pitch, took a ball, then kicked while swinging.
As he walked back to the dugout, Maggi received a second standing ovation.
“I’ve never been happier for a strikeout in my life,” Maggi said. — beer temple
Maggi’s parents, brothers and uncle were at PNC Park to witness her debut. After the game, the family gathered near the edge of the dugout for hugs, smiles and photos.
“My mom was crying,” Maggi said. My dad was… I never saw my dad cry. So it was moving.
The Pirates will play their series finale against the Dodgers on Thursday, then begin a six-game road trip to Washington and Tampa Bay. The club haven’t said whether Maggi will stay with the team or return to Double A.
If this turns out to be Maggi’s only match in the majors, was the long wait worth it?
“One hundred percent, because I love baseball,” Maggi said. “I grinded for 13 years, but I was doing what I loved. Getting here, my name is in history. I put on a big league uniform. I shared the pitch with the greatest in the world. I can finally sleep at night, I hope.” beer temple
A 15th-round pick in 2010, Maggi climbed the Pirates system at Double-A Altoona but was released in 2015. After that, he bounced around the minors with five organizations. On September 18, 2021, the Twins called up Maggi to the majors when Rob Refsnyder injured his elbow. Maggi spent three days on The Show but was sent back to Triple A without appearing in a big league game. Last summer, the Phillies traded Maggi to the Pirates, and he came to spring training this year as an unregistered guest, but failed to make the matchday roster. opening.
According to MLB, Maggi became the ninth oldest player to make an AL/NL debut in the expansion era (since 1961), excluding players who started their careers in a foreign league.
(Photo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)