PITTSBURGH – Cole Tucker arrived at PNC Park on Saturday morning to find a No. 3 jersey hanging in his new locker in the Pirates' clubhouse. That uniform was worn by veteran utility man Sean Rodriguez, who sent a message to Tucker when he was surfaced at the 22-year-old shortstop
PITTSBURGH – Cole Tucker arrived at PNC Park on Saturday morning to find a. 3 jersey hanging in his new locker in the Pirates' clubhouse. That uniform was worn by veteran utility man Sean Rodriguez, who sent a message to Tucker when surfaced that the 22-year-old shortstop was headed to the big leagues: “And so it begins.”
Tucker couldn't have scripted a better debut. The first and round pick blasted a tie-breaking two-run homer to center field to earn his first major league hit, homer and curtain call just before the pirates' 3 "I don't forget for a first impression, right?" "Tucker said." “Just being welcomed and being here with a big league uniform and winning a baseball game, this is the coolest day of my life.” Tucker didn't sleep after he and Bryan Reynolds were called up late Friday night. The Pirates No. 5 prospect had to step out of the batter's box in the fifth inning after seeing a lightning bolt outside the ballpark. But Tucker, as upbeat and energetic as they come, wasn't going to let a little fatigue ̵
Tucker clubbed a 91.3 -mph sinker from left-hander Derek Holland a projected 431 feet in the bushes in front of the batter's eye. According to Statcast, the ball came off his bat at 104.4 mph. He is the first Pirate player to homer his Major League debut since Starling Marte launched the first pitch he saw out of the ballpark on July 26, 2012.
"I missed a little bit more over the middle of the plate," Holland said. “But congrats to him. First Major League Homer. ”
– Cole Tucker (@cotuck) April 21, 2019
Tucker's parents, Jackie and Erin, celebrated in the stands, high -fiving anyone sitting nearby, while Tucker trotted around the bases. He kept his cool as rounded first and second, then saw third-base coach Joey Cora, his teammates celebrating in the duug and the crowd cheering him on. As Tucker crossed home plate, he flashed the "I love you" hand sign on his parents.
"That 's always our thing when something cool happens to you or hello or goodbye, we throw that," Tucker said. “So to be able to do that in PNC Park was pretty dope.”
He shouted and high-fived his teammates and slammed his helmet onto the dugout floor as the crowd continued to cheer. Tucker stepped out of the dugout for the first curtain call of his life, raised both arms then thumped his hand over his heart to acknowledge the fans who might soon come to love the spirited shortstop.
“I might never do that again my life, ”Tucker said. “But to say that I did – and for my family to see that, and to introduce myself to the city and this club in that fashion – is, like, storybook.”
Jung Ho Kang, who homered in the fourth inning, struck out to the fifth and the game immediately went into a delay due to lightning in the area. About an hour and a half in the delay, Tucker – still in full uniform – emerging from the steps of the Pirates' dugout to see his younger brother, shake hands and take photos with the few fans still braving the pouring rain. 19659017] When the game was finally called by Major League Baseball after a three-hour and eight-minute delay, the pirates doused with baby powder, soda and whatever else they could find. He got back to his locker to find 510 unread text messages on his phone. Somebody edited a photo with Tucker on top of one of the statue plinths outside of PNC Park, printed it and hung it above his locker.
"That's obviously insane," Tucker said, laughing. "I don't know who did, but that's hilarious." Right-hander Jameson Taillon, a former first-round pick and top prospect like Tucker, had his start cut short by the delay. Taillon picked up his first win of the season thanks to Tucker, holding the Giants to four hits and a walk while striking out three. Pittsburgh's rotation now owns a National League-best 1.96 ERA after 18 games.
The Pirates called up Tucker on Saturday because they needed a shortstop and felt he was their best option. But they did so with confidence in part because they have seen the switch-hitter's power improve since they selected him as a skinny 17-year-old with the 24th overall pick in the 2014 Draft.
Tucker hit only two homers in each of his first three Minor League seasons, and hit only six in 2017 and five last season. Then Tucker went deep three times in his first 13 games for Triple-A Indianapolis this season and was blasted into a center in only his third major league at bat.
"It's a special day. It's a fantastic day, ”Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before the game. “What other job, employment you get where your first day of work, your mom and dad can come watch you? Think about it. It's pretty unique.
Adam Berry has covered the pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.