Day of exciting firsts for Lindgren, Heathcott
Reliever wows in MLB debut, while outfielder hits first career homer
NEW YORK -- Yankees left-hander Jacob Lindgren now shares something in common with Deion Sanders. Lindgren made his Major League debut during Monday's 14-1 victory over the Royals, becoming the first Yankee to reach The Show within a year of being drafted since Sanders in 1989.
"That's pretty crazy," Lindgren said. "Maybe I should try to go play football now."
On a day full of bright spots for the Yankees, who snapped a six-game losing streak, they received a boost from two of their youngest players. Lindgren, 22, tossed two scoreless innings, while 24-year-old outfielder Slade Heathcott belted his first career home run, a two-run blast in the seventh inning off Greg Holland.
"You want to see your young players come up and have success and feel like they're contributing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "And to not put a ton of pressure on themselves and not be looking over their shoulder, wondering if they're going to play the next day, and that sort of thing. So yeah, it's a special moment."
Although the Yankees were ahead by 13 runs when Lindgren entered the game in the eighth inning, he admitted to having some nerves as he jogged to the mound from the bullpen. It's understandable, considering he was pitching for Mississippi State just 12 months ago, before the Yankees made him their first selection (2nd round, 55th overall) in last June's First-Year Player Draft.
Lindgren's family -- including his grandpa, aunt and uncle -- were among the 36,031 fans in attendance watching. The rest of the Yankees' relievers moved closer to the fence in the bullpen to get a better view of him.
Lindgren seemed amped while tossing his warmup pitches on the mound, firing a few of them high in the strike zone. He eventually began to settle in once he got Eric Hosmer to ground into a double play on his second pitch. From there, he completed two scoreless innings to close out the game, walking a pair and striking out a pair.
"Yeah, it's crazy to think about," Lindgren said. "Some of my buddies were texting me. We'd be going to regional right now. It's crazy to think I'm in Yankee Stadium."
Heathcott's big fly capped off a five-homer day for New York. It's a moment he said he's pictured since he was six years old, and in about a thousand different ways. The ball was retrieved by a Yankees team security guard, and the fan who tracked down the ball will receive a tour of the clubhouse and six signed balls.
Heathcott, a first-round pick in the 2009 First Year Player Draft, finished the day 2-for-5 and is now batting 5-for-12 (.417) since he made his Major League debut last Wednesday. He will likely display the home-run ball in his son's room.
"It's just surreal," Heathcott said. "It's an awesome opportunity, and I'm just thankful for God, the Yankees, and everyone in my life that's helped me to get to where I am, had patience to deal with me in the past and watched me mature and be here now. It's just been awesome."