"And I lost it," Neal recalled Wednesday afternoon, after joining the A's in Boston for his first trip to the big leagues. "It was a cool moment, for sure."
A first-time visitor to Boston, Neal was brought in as the latest bullpen reinforcement for Wednesday's series finale against the Red Sox. Neal made his big league debut in the sixth inning, allowing three runs on four hits, including a home run, with two strikeouts in three innings of a 13-3 loss.
The 27-year-old made six starts for Nashville, going 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 36 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run or fewer in four outings.
"He can give us some length," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We've seen him a couple times at Spring Training over the years. It's always cool to see a guy's reaction when he walks into a big league clubhouse for the first time and comes in the manager's office and we talk about kind of what the routine is. It was pretty neat to see him walk in there today … a little wide-eyed. I think you're in awe of the surroundings a little bit."
"I've been trying to look around and take it in and slow the moment down," Neal said. "It's been great. Found out last night and called my parents, and it was a happy moment for all of us."
Dad Quin and mom Kim, along with Neal's fiance, Kianna, and two of his friends -- all from Dallas -- arrived in time for Wednesday's game.
Neal, originally selected by the Marlins in the 17th round of the 2010 Draft, was released three years later and signed by the A's as a free agent shortly thereafter. He led all qualifying A's farmhands with a 3.09 ERA in 2014.
The A's transferred infielder Eric Sogard (knee surgery) to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Neal on the 40-man roster.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.