'We're all smiles today': O's excited to welcome new teammate Holliday

April 11th, 2024

BOSTON -- One of the most highly anticipated callups in recent memory may have been most anticipated inside of the Orioles' clubhouse.

When got to the visitors’ locker room at Fenway Park prior to his Major League debut on Wednesday night, he found himself amongst some very friendly faces, who were all excited to see the 20-year-old join the club.

“Our lockers are right next to each other -- me, Gunnar [Henderson], Adley [Rutschman], [Colton] Cowser and Jackson,” said third baseman Jordan Westburg following the team’s 7-5 victory over the Red Sox. “There’s not a more excited stretch of guys in the clubhouse right now.”

All five of those players were selected by the Orioles within the first two rounds of the past five MLB Drafts and are now crucial pieces to a puzzle that is coming together to form one of the more formidable lineups in baseball.

More importantly, Holliday has the opportunity to learn from a group that has recently been through what he is embarking upon, which should only accelerate his learning curve even more.

“I think it's helpful to have guys in your clubhouse that have had similar experiences, especially ones close in age,” manager Brandon Hyde said prior to the game. “He's comfortable here, especially with our club. He's been with the Major League club so much this spring, he's already been friends with a lot of these guys. That's helpful also."

Holliday hit .333 with nine RBIs and 18 runs in 10 games at Triple-A Norfolk before being called up on Tuesday night.

“He’s put the bat on the ball,” said Henderson, who sent a congratulatory text to Holliday after hearing the news on Tuesday night. “He has really elite bat-on-ball skills. Getting on base a lot, that’s what he’s done throughout his whole career. Looking forward to him doing that up here and seeing what he can do.”

In his debut with Baltimore, Holliday batted ninth in the lineup and finished the night 0-for-4 at the plate, though he did pick up his first career RBI on a groundout in the sixth, which aided a big comeback effort.

“It was fun to watch him make his debut. It’s always a special moment,” Hyde said postgame. “He drove in a big run for us, so he contributed that way. To be 20 years old and to go through the pressure that built up and all the stuff that he had to go through today, I bet he’s probably glad it’s over, honestly, and relieved and looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

For his efforts, Holliday got to be part of a big comeback victory for the club in his debut. Trailing 5-0 after five innings, Baltimore’s bats took advantage of Boston’s sloppy fielding, leading to a three-run home run from Westburg in the seventh to cap a four-run rally.

“To have each other on the same club again, we’re all smiles today,” said Westburg, who gleamed while speaking of his new teammate. “We’re just trying to keep it level, but he’s so mature that he handled it really well.”

Following a long haul from Norfolk to Boston, which included packing up his apartment and little-to-no sleep, a grinning Holliday echoed the sentiment of each of his teammates, noting, “I couldn’t be happier to be here.”