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Vieira impresses in adventurous MLB debut

Seattle's No. 9 prospect snags liner, reaches 100 mph in 1-2-3 inning
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Thyago Vieira survived his Mariners debut on Monday in impressive fashion. And in this case, survived was the correct word as the hard-throwing rookie snared a 98-mph line drive right at his head on the first pitch he threw to the Orioles' Chris Davis, then proceeded to record a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Seattle's 11-3 loss.

"Wow," said the excitable 24-year-old from Brazil. "I don't know. God protected me there. That was so fast. I saw it and put my glove there and the ball was right there."

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SEATTLE -- Thyago Vieira survived his Mariners debut on Monday in impressive fashion. And in this case, survived was the correct word as the hard-throwing rookie snared a 98-mph line drive right at his head on the first pitch he threw to the Orioles' Chris Davis, then proceeded to record a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Seattle's 11-3 loss.

"Wow," said the excitable 24-year-old from Brazil. "I don't know. God protected me there. That was so fast. I saw it and put my glove there and the ball was right there."

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Davis laced a 98-mph fastball back up the middle with a 98-mph exit velocity, testing the big youngster's reflexes in a hurry. But Vieira didn't let that adrenaline rush throw him as he proceeded to strike out Joey Rickard, touching 100 mph before putting him away with a nasty slider, and then getting Caleb Joseph on a groundout.

Video: BAL@SEA: Vieira snares liner on first pitch of career

"Thank God he caught the ball that came back to him," said manager Scott Servais. "That would have been just frightening, the first pitch you ever throw in the big leagues and it comes right back at your forehead like that. He reacted, he got it and he kept on.

"I was impressed. I thought he threw the ball well. He threw strikes. The breaking ball was much improved from what we saw in Spring Training."

Vieira's final pitch in warmups bounced wildly past home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom standing several feet to the side of the plate and flew to the backstop, but he settled in nicely and wound up exiting to a standing ovation from the crowd.

"I got excited, but I tried to stay in control and not put too much pressure on myself," he said. "I just said, 'I'm going to be like me, Thyago Vieira right here. Just attack the hitter and show everything I can do."

Vieira, the Mariners' No. 9 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday in his first Major League callup.

Right-hander Christian Bergman was optioned to Tacoma to make room as the Mariners continue shuffling relievers to keep their bullpen fresh to help out an injury-riddled rotation.

Vieira became just the fourth Brazilian-born player to appear in the Majors and just the second pitcher, joining catcher Yan Gomes of the Indians, outfielder Paulo Orlando of the Royals and Andre Rienzo, who pitched for the White Sox and Marlins from 2013-15.

"For me, it's a really big jump, not just for me but for Brazilian baseball," Vieira said. "Because now everybody can see Brazil has another guy in the big leagues. I'm so happy because I'm trying to help baseball in Brazil, too. I'm so excited for this great moment and will give my best to show everybody the talent we have. I'm ready."

Worth noting

• Reliever David Phelps played catch again Monday and is close to throwing a bullpen session as he works back from a right elbow issue that landed him on the DL a week ago. "No issues, no pain, so he'll progress to the mound shortly," Servais said.

• Lefty James Paxton, on the DL since Friday with a strained pectoral muscle, will see the doctor for tests on Tuesday and hopes to be cleared to begin throwing again soon.

"It's feeling pretty good," Paxton said. "We haven't done too much to test it strength-wise, but range of motion feels really good. I haven't had any soreness or anything. We'll find out a lot more tomorrow and hopefully get back on the trail to getting back on the mound."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Christian Bergman, Thyago Vieira