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Tucker 'really excited' in Chase Field debut

Phoenix native grew up attending D-backs games
@adamdberry
May 14, 2019

PHOENIX -- Early Monday, Cole Tucker rode from his family’s home in the Ahwatukee neighborhood to Chase Field downtown. His father, Jackie, dropped him off at the players’ entrance to the ballpark where he first came to love baseball. Hours before starting at shortstop for the Pirates, Tucker enjoyed a

PHOENIX -- Early Monday, Cole Tucker rode from his family’s home in the Ahwatukee neighborhood to Chase Field downtown. His father, Jackie, dropped him off at the players’ entrance to the ballpark where he first came to love baseball.

Hours before starting at shortstop for the Pirates, Tucker enjoyed a few private moments. The rookie walked around the ballpark, sat in the stands, stepped onto the infield to preview his view for the night and took it all in. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before being double-switched out of the game, but his at-bats in the Pirates’ 9-3 loss drew some of the loudest cheers of the night. Yes, this was a dream come true for the 22-year-old Phoenix native who learned to read by poring over the D-backs’ media guides.

“One of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced,” Tucker said. “Making your debut is awesome, and that’s definitely No. 1 the coolest thing that’s happened to me since I’ve been up here. But this is a close second. This is home.”

Tucker said his aunt and uncle had D-backs season tickets when he was growing up, so he attended 15 or 20 games per year until the point when his own budding baseball career prevented that from being possible. He was there in the third level, just behind home plate, for Games 2 and 7 of the 2001 World Series and many other memorable moments.

“It’s really emotional to think about it and be here as a player and have the chance to go out and do something special tonight,” he said. “I’m really excited.”

Tucker, a people person by nature, expected there would be 300-350 fans sitting in section 116 to watch him play on Monday night. He grew up about 15 minutes away from Chase Field and graduated from nearby Mountain Pointe High School in 2014, when the Pirates selected him in the first round of the Draft.

“Ever since I was in elementary school, really, I knew that Major League Baseball was a thing that people do. It was my goal and my dream to get there and to get here,” he said. “To be so close to where that journey began for me is awesome. Everyone I know and love and care about is going to be here tonight, so it’s really going to be something.”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the coaching staff encouraged Tucker to enjoy himself and “have fun when it’s time to have fun.” They also reminded him to prepare and focus like he would in any other ballpark. Tucker understood the message.

“Now, it’s business,” Tucker said. “I know what my job is here. I know what these guys are looking for me to do, and I know that they depend on me. When 6:40 comes, it’s game time.”

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.