A crush, at first sight: Twins rookie Rosario hits homer on first MLB pitch
MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario would be hard-pressed to make a better first impression with the Minnesota Twins than what he did Wednesday at Target Field.
The Twins outfield prospect was called up on Monday and watched Tuesday's game from the dugout. He was in the lineup Wednesday against Oakland, batting eighth in Minnesota's lineup. When Rosario's first major league at-bat came up in the bottom of the third inning, it didn't last long.
On the first pitch he saw from A's left-hander Scott Kazmir, Rosario hit an opposite-field homer over the left-field fence. His first career hit was also his first career homer, and it came on the first career pitch he saw in his first career at-bat. According to STATS LLC, Rosario is the first player in Twins history and just the 29th ever in the majors to hit a home run on the first pitch he saw.
Welcome to the majors, kid.
"It's an awesome moment," said Rosario, who noted he had around 100 messages on his phone after the game.
The homer was the first run scored in Minnesota's 13-0 win and elicited a standing ovation from fans at Target Field -- and the silent treatment from Rosario's new teammates. As Rosario headed into the dugout following the homer, Minnesota's players didn't respond and instead sat quietly.
The rookie ran through the quiet dugout anyway, unable to contain his excitement, before the rest of the Twins finally gave him his proper celebration.
"I didn't really realize that they were giving him the (silent) treatment there because I kind of put my eyes back on the field right after congratulating him," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "I think it goes to show, Eddie's obviously very well-liked by everybody here. A lot of guys got to know him in spring training. He comes up and he does something that's pretty rare in this game when you hit the first pitch you see over the fence."
Making the moment even better for Rosario is the fact that his family was able to make the trip from Puerto Rico to Minnesota to see his memorable debut. They were at Target Field on Tuesday, his first full game in uniform, and stayed in the Twin Cities for Wednesday's game.
It was a night the entire Rosario family -- five family members in total at Target Field -- won't soon forget.
"Very special for my parents," Rosario said.
The rest of Rosario's night wasn't quite as exciting, though the bar was set pretty high after his first at-bat. He grounded into a 6-4-3 double play for the first two outs of the fourth inning. Two innings later Rosario grounded out to second base to end the sixth.
Rosario's final at-bat of the game came in the sixth inning. He hit a towering drive to the deepest part of Target Field, but the ball died on the warning track just shy of the 411-foot sign on the fence in left-center field.
Even though that shot didn't clear the fence, it still drew cheers from the fans who watched him homer earlier in the game.
"You know you've left an impression on the fans when they cheer your fly balls," Molitor said. "We talked about his ability to stand in there against left-handers, and obviously tonight he did a nice job. I'm sure that's a big relief for him getting the first hit, first home run, and being part of a good win."
Defensively, Rosario had a rather quiet night in right field. In fact, he didn't have a fly ball hit to him all game despite several lefties in Oakland's lineup. Rosario didn't have to make a play on a ball until the seventh inning when Eric Sogard rolled a single to right field.
Rosario is capable of playing all three outfield positions and did so throughout his minor league career. Wednesday's start happened to be in right field, but there's a good chance he'll see some time in left field.
And power has been a part of his game in the past, although not as much recently. He hit 21 home runs with Elizabethton in rookie ball back in 2011, and followed that up with 12 home runs for Low-A Beloit in 2012. Rosario split 2013 between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain and combined for 10 home runs in 122 games.
Last year with New Britain, Rosario belted just eight homers in 79 games after serving a 50-game suspension for a substance violation. In his 23 games at Triple-A Rochester before his call-up, Rosario had three homers in 95 at-bats.
It's likely that none of his previous 60 career home runs were as significant as the one he hit Wednesday. Rosario was even able to get the ball back thanks to the two fans who caught it in the left field seats. They stopped down near the Twins' clubhouse -- during the game, no less -- and swapped the ball for a photo with Rosario and some autographs.
Rosario plans to give the baseball to his father and grandfather. He doesn't need the keepsake to remember his major-league debut.
"It's a huge moment," he said.
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