Lithuanian reliever Neverauskas makes debut for Pirates
PITTSBURGH (AP) Dovydas Neverauskas' long journey from Lithuania to the major leagues finally ended on Monday night when the relief pitcher made his debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Neverauskas was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday after Pittsburgh put utility player Adam Frazier on the 10-day disabled list with a strained hamstring. Neverauskas arrived at PNC Park in the sixth inning of Pittsburgh's game against the Chicago Cubs. Two innings later, he was on the hill facing the defending World Series champions.
''This is the moment I've waited for, worked for it,'' Neverauskas said. ''I'm happy. I was really excited.''
Neverauskas surrendered a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings. He picked up his first strikeout when Chicago reliever Justin Grimm whiffed in the eighth of a 14-3 romp by the Cubs.
The 24-year-old Neverauskas was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, and was signed by the Pirates in 2009. He rose steadily through Pittsburgh's minor league system, appearing in the All-Star Futures Game last summer. Neverauskas did not allow an earned run in 8 1/3 innings for Indianapolis this season and finally got the call on Monday.
The whirlwind that was his first few hours in the majors didn't lessen Neverauskas' perspective on what this could mean back home. The Pirates said Neverauskas is the first player born and raised in Lithuania to reach the majors.
''Just better opportunities and to see that baseball can be played in Lithuania,'' he said. ''Someone can follow in my footstep.''
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball