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Fowler gets first MLB hit in NY vs. former team

A's prospect singles off Gray, the pitcher he was traded for
MLB.com @JaneMLB

NEW YORK -- Dustin Fowler made his highly anticipated Yankee Stadium debut on Friday -- a year later than planned. He was also wearing a different uniform.

There's more. The now-A's outfielder, making his first start for Oakland, did so against the pitcher he was traded for last year: Sonny Gray. And Fowler recorded his first Major League hit against him, a clean single in the fourth inning of the A's 10-5 win.

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NEW YORK -- Dustin Fowler made his highly anticipated Yankee Stadium debut on Friday -- a year later than planned. He was also wearing a different uniform.

There's more. The now-A's outfielder, making his first start for Oakland, did so against the pitcher he was traded for last year: Sonny Gray. And Fowler recorded his first Major League hit against him, a clean single in the fourth inning of the A's 10-5 win.

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"You couldn't ask for anything better," said Fowler, who received a hearty applause from the Yankees faithful when he stepped to the plate for his first at-bat. "It was great. I'm just glad I'm back, and hopefully I can contribute in every way they want me to and stay up here as long as I can."

Video: Dustin Fowler on return to Yankee Stadium

"We were pulling for him," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And to come back and get his first start here, his first hit here, was kind of apropos, coming full circle for him."

Fowler was one of three players -- James Kaprielian and Jorge Mateo were also in the haul -- the A's reeled in from the prospect-rich Yankees last summer. Fowler has since deemed the trade a blessing in disguise, recognizing an opportunity in Oakland that might not have existed in New York.

Fowler ranked No. 5 among A's top prospects

He'll be the primary center fielder, with Mark Canha expected to draw intermittent starts at the position against lefties. Fowler hit ninth against his former organization Friday after being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday, pinch-hitting and softly lining out in his first Major League at-bat.

He was supposed to get one in pinstripes after his June 29 debut last year, when he suffered a devastating right knee injury in Chicago that required season-ending surgery -- and left him wondering if he'd ever get that at-bat.

"When it happened, I didn't know if I was going to be able to come back and play," Fowler said. "It's something I didn't think would be as soon as it was, so I'm happy I was able to recover as quick as I was and make my debut again."

Video: NYY@CWS: Fowler carted off the field after injury

Fowler, 23, had a dozen family members in the stands for Friday's occasion, which proved momentous for a multitude of reasons.

"Just an outstanding story and an outstanding guy," A's starter Kendall Graveman said. "He's going to play this game for a long time. He can go get it in center, and his approach at the plate is really good. Exciting to see somebody of that character be able to come out against a team that he got traded from [after] the injury and all the odds saying he might not play again at the big league level -- and come out and get a hit."

Tweet from @NBCSAthletics: Dustin Fowler picked up his first career hit and his family was pumped! #RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/lvv1Wp5ar3

Even members of the opposite side, including several of Fowler's former Minor League teammates, could appreciate the significance of the day.

"Especially picking up his first hit, there's many more to come out of him," Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said. "He's got a bright future ahead of him, and I just wish him the best. It's exciting to see him at Yankee Stadium, and playing where he belongs in the Major Leagues."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Fowler became the second player this season to record his first career hit against the team that drafted him, joining Atlanta's Jesse Biddle, who doubled for his first hit on April 29 at Philadelphia. Fowler is the first player drafted by the Yankees to get his first Major League hit against them since Justin Turner on July 11, 2009, with Baltimore. Fowler is the first player to do so against the Yankees after debuting for them since Domingo Ramos on May 23, 1980, with Toronto.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast.

New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Dustin Fowler