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Scott becomes MLB's 1st South African pitcher

Johannesburg native debuted on Saturday vs. Angels
@gregjohnsmlb
June 9, 2019

ANAHEIM -- For any player, getting to the Major Leagues for the first time is a huge accomplishment and a moment to be shared with family who helped make the journey possible. But for Tayler Scott, that journey was just a little longer, as evident by the effort needed for

ANAHEIM -- For any player, getting to the Major Leagues for the first time is a huge accomplishment and a moment to be shared with family who helped make the journey possible. But for Tayler Scott, that journey was just a little longer, as evident by the effort needed for his family to join him Saturday in time to see him become the first South African player to pitch in an MLB game.

Scott's parents -- Rodney and Karen Scott, as well as his sister -- hopped the first flight from home to see his MLB debut. But that flight is a 24-hour haul from Johannesburg, South Africa, through Atlanta, then to Anaheim.

Scott was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday to bolster the Mariners bullpen, and he made his debut relieving Yusei Kikuchi during the fourth inning of Saturday's game against the Angels, going 2 2/3 innings while allowing four hits and three runs with a walk and four strikeouts.

The 27-year-old is the second South African to play in the Majors and first pitcher. Gift Ngoepe, a 29-year-old utility infielder who grew up about 10 minutes away from Scott in Johannesburg, played 41 games with the Pirates and Blue Jays in 2017-18 and is currently in Triple-A with the Phillies.

“It’s been a pretty crazy couple days,” Scott said prior to Saturday’s game. “But today will be the most emotional since my parents just got in town, so my family will be here. Today will be the most emotional of all of them.”

Scott was born in South Africa in 1992 and moved to the U.S. at age 16 to attend high school and play baseball in Scottsdale Ariz., before being drafted in the fifth round by the Cubs in 2011.

His family remained behind in South Africa, though his parents took turns staying with him during his prep days in Arizona.

Scott acknowledged that baseball isn’t very popular in his homeland. He participated on a club team that typically played its games on an empty rugby or soccer field. But his interest grew when his teammate, Ngoepe, signed with the Pirates in '08.

“When he first signed, he was 16 so I was [two years] younger," Scott said. "It kind of opened my eyes that you were able to do that and go play baseball in America.

“We came up to a baseball camp when I was 15, and from then on, I realized that’s what I wanted to do,” Scott said. “It’s been a big accomplishment to be the first pitcher from South Africa. It’s pretty amazing.”

The right-hander went 5-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 60 2/3 innings over 44 relief appearances last year for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, then he signed with Seattle as a Minor League free agent in December. He was 3-2 with a 5.88 ERA in 33 2/3 innings in 19 outings in Tacoma before getting the call up on Friday.

Haniger out of hospital

Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger has been released from the hospital and is now recovering at his home in Seattle after undergoing surgery on a ruptured testicle that occurred when he hit himself with a foul ball on Thursday.

The Mariners aren’t offering any timeline on Haniger’s recovery, though Adrian Beltre missed 5 1/2 weeks with the same injury in 2009 while with Seattle.

How is Haniger doing?

“Just OK,” manager Scott Servais said. “We’ll keep close tabs on that one. It’s going to take some time. He’s going to be sore for awhile.”

Worth noting

Dee Gordon went 1-for-4 while playing designated hitter on Friday in his first rehab game with Tacoma as he returns from a deep bone bruise on his right wrist. Gordon was slated to play at second base on Saturday, and the tentative plan is to have him rejoin the Mariners on Tuesday in Minnesota.

• Shortstop J.P. Crawford (sprained left ankle) had a good workout while doing agility and running drills in Seattle and will now hit in a live batting practice session on Sunday in Tacoma, when rehabbing pitchers Hunter Strickland and Félix Hernández (both strained right lats) are scheduled to face hitters prior to the Rainiers game.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.