Kubitza gets 1st hit, shows jitters in debut
'This guy has a chance to be a real good player,' Scioscia says
Highly touted Angels' third base prospect Kyle Kubitza hit the ground running at Tropicana Field in his Major League debut on Wednesday night, collecting two singles -- including a sharp liner to center in his first MLB at-bat -- in the Halos' 4-2 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The left-handed hitting Kubitza, who was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake after David Freese developed hamstring tightness during Tuesday night's game against the Rays, sandwiched a seventh-inning single to right around a fourth-inning strikeout to finish 2-for-3 on the night before being pinch-hit for by Freese in the ninth against tough southpaw Jake McGee.
"Felt great. Good to get those first few out of the way, and hopefully I can keep going," said Kubitza, who hit .287 with three home runs, 21 doubles, four triples and 28 RBIs in 57 games at Salt Lake.
"He swung the bat OK, he got two hits. This guy has a chance to be a real good player," said Angels' manager Mike Scioscia of the 24-year-old infielder.
Freese, whose status remains day to day, according to Scioscia, struck out looking to end the game.
Kubitza's first taste of the big leagues proved to be bittersweet, however, as he experienced some rookie jitters in the field and on the basepaths.
With two out in the second inning and runners on second and third, Kubitza fielded a Joey Butler grounder cleanly but elected to throw out Kevin Kiermaier at second after a rundown instead of taking the forceout at first, allowing Nick Franklin to score from third with the Rays' second run of the night.
"I threw it to second and then thought to myself 'I don't know what I'm doing.' Should have thrown to first. It was a bad baseball play," Kubitza said.
After reaching base in the third, Kubitza himself became caught in a rundown between second and third -- and was eventually tagged out -- after a run-scoring single by Erick Aybar plated C.J. Cron.
"He's a good baserunner. He got around the bag and looked like he was coming to third and just lost his footing," Scioscia said. "And on the force play, that's just Baseball 101. When that ball's hit to you, you know you have to get the force out at first base and you really shouldn't be distracted by anything else.
"A couple of things got away from him tonight, but we'll take the positives," continued Scoiscia. "Hopefully he'll be a little more relaxed tomorrow."
Kubitza was acquired by the Angels in an offseason deal that sent Lefty Ricardo Sanchez to Atlanta, and is projected as the 2016 replacement for Freese, who is signed through 2015.