When Grayson Rodriguez’s impressive five-inning MLB debut was finished, the right-hander had the opportunity to reconnect with his biggest supporter — his father.
His family members were in the game room at Globe Life Field, not far from the visiting clubhouse. Shortly after Rodriguez entered the room, he shared a warm embrace with his father, Gilbert.
Tears began to flow down Rodriguez’s face as he rested on his dad’s shoulder.
The emotions of Rodriguez’s big day poured out. At the time, no one cared about the Orioles‘ 5-2 loss to the Rangers because the 23-year-old pitcher had just experienced his lifelong dream come true in his home state.
“I grew up watching the Texas Rangers. A lot of memories at the old ballpark,” said Rodriguez, the Orioles’ top prospect. “Getting to come and throw here is pretty special.”
Rodriguez’s path to the big leagues was not as smooth as he had probably hoped. He was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on the last day of Spring Training after he failed to perform well enough to make it into Baltimore’s rotation.
But, when Kyle Bradish suffered a foot injury, Rodriguez was called up to the big leagues.
“Grayson was the next man up starting pitcher-wise,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We broke with five guys that had really good Spring Trainings. Grayson just missed out on breaking with us, but we knew he’d be up at some point soon, and it just worked out for him.”
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom was on the mound for the Rangers. But, when Rodriquez took the mound in the first inning, he had to throw 30 pitches to get three outs.
He said his jitters were so intense early on that he could barely feel the baseball when it was in his hands. He went on to give up two earned runs in the first frame.
But he eventually settled in and retired 13 of the final 15 batters he faced. Rodriguez finished the night with 83 pitches, 53 of which were strikes.
“The second inning felt like a normal game,” Rodriguez said. “The first inning I kind of felt like I was on an island.”
It is unclear whether Rodriguez’s next start will occur in the majors or minors.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde didn’t commit to Rodriguez making another start.
If Rodriguez’s number Is called again, he said he will be up for the task. “If they want to give me another start,” Rodriguez said, “I’ll be ready for it.”