Kaprielian's dad wears his heart on his sleeve

May 13th, 2021

It would be understandable for A’s right-hander to feel a little anxious. After all, not only was he making his first Major League start, he was also taking the mound at historic Fenway Park. But he wasn’t the only Kaprielian in the building who was dealing with some nerves.

Kaprielian’s father, Doug, flew into Boston from Southern California on Wednesday to take in his son’s first start in the big leagues. From the time James threw his first pitch, it was clear that Doug would be in for an exhausting day.

Accompanied by a group that included Kaprielian’s uncle and four friends from back home, Doug struggled to remain in his seat down the third-base line near the A’s dugout. He watched his son limit the damage in a 31-pitch first inning and settle in by retiring 10 of 12 batters at one point.

But the real show came in the fifth.

As Kaprielian got himself into another jam with runners at the corners and no outs, the A’s broadcast decided to go to a split-screen format. On the left side was a camera focused solely on Doug, while the right side showed what was happening in the game. It was clearly a nerve-wracking experience for Doug, who lived and died with each pitch thrown.

By the time Kaprielian delivered his final pitch -- a 3-2 changeup in the dirt that Rafael Devers chased for strike three -- Doug exploded out of his seat with a fist pump. Waiting a few seconds for catcher Sean Murphy to complete his throw to first base, Doug then yelled in excitement and high-fived any person he could find near his section.

“It really means the world to have him fly out,” Kaprielian said. “It was special for me to have him there. I know how intense he is and how proud he is of me. It’s just a really special moment for my entire family.

“They’ve been in my corner at times when I didn’t think I was going to be in this position. They continue to keep me positive and really the backbone of who I am. My Dad is that man and the rock of the family. He gets pretty amped up, as I’m sure most people were able to see tonight.”

Kaprielian ended up recording his first Major League win, 4-1. The 27-year-old right-hander held Boston to one run on four hits and three walks while striking out six batters over five innings. After the game, Kaprielian said he embraced with his father, who was emotional as he hugged him.

“He told me how proud he was," Kaprielian said. "I could see he was getting a little teary-eyed. I told him this is an important moment for all of us and this is going to be the first of many, I hope. I also told him, ‘You need to relax and go have a beer.’ We got another one in five days.”

Nothing was easy about Kaprielian’s journey to this point. He arrived to the A’s in a trade from the Yankees in 2017 while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the entire ‘17 and ‘18 seasons. A strained lat muscle in Spring Training of '19 kept him out of action for the first two months of the Minor League season.

“My journey to get to this point was an absolute struggle,” Kaprielian said. “There’s been ups and downs. That’s kind of how that first inning was. Dealing with adversity and being able to get through those moments, that’s kind of what that was out there -- my journey to get to this point.

“When my back is against the wall, you’re never going to see any sort of quit out of me like that.”