Mahtook homers for first big league hit
Rookie joins five other Rays to boast accomplishment
TORONTO -- Mikie Mahtook stepped into the batter's box in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 12-7 loss to the Blue Jays looking for his first Major League hit.
Little did the Rays' rookie know that his first hit would be a home run.
The outfielder from Lafayette, La., had only been in the Major Leagues since Friday after the Rays recalled him to take the place of John Jaso when he was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Once the game got out of hand Wednesday night, Rays manager Kevin Cash began to substitute liberally. Mahtook was included in the substitutions as he took over for Kevin Kiermaier in center field in the bottom of the fifth. That meant an at-bat for Mahtook in the top half of the inning once Logan Forsythe reached on a two-out double.
"I was just kind of up there and tried to act as calm as possible," Mahtook said. "Any time you come in during the middle of the game, you have to get your bearings a little bit. But I got up there and just told myself I needed to be aggressive and stay within myself."
Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle got ahead in the count 1-2 before trying to slip an 82-mph changeup past Mahtook, who connected. Seconds later, he floated around the bases after his first Major League hit landed in the left-field stands.
"I got to two strikes, and I just wanted to make good contact and put the ball into play," Mahtook said. "... I was lucky enough to get the ball up in the air, and it got out."
Mahtook did manage to remember the experience of running around the bases.
"I remember telling myself to act as calm as possible," Mahtook said.
When Mahtook reached the bench, his teammates gave him the silent treatment.
"We were getting it put to us, so it put some smiles on some guys' faces," Cash said. "You have to keep having fun. Big hit, big day for him. We're happy for him."
Mahtook smiled about the bench antics, noting he'd been on the receiving end of a similar prank during his college days at LSU, and he'd also given the silent treatment to other players over the years.
"It's just you guys just go with it, I just acted like they were giving me high fives, and I kind of went with it," Mahtook said. "I probably would have done the same thing if I was them. It was a fun experience. ... It was a good laugh. I'm glad they didn't bombard me. It was kind of funny."
Mahtook was asked if the fact he hit his homer off Buehrle made his experience more special.
"Absolutely, I grew up watching him pitch," Mahtook said. "He's had a great career. He's one of the better pitchers in the game. He's pitched for a long time, so it's something that I'll always look back on and cherish. It's something that, I don't care who it was off of. I'm glad I got my first homer."
Mahtook became the sixth Rays player to record a home run as his first career hit. Brandon Guyer was the last player to turn the trick when he homered on May 6, 2011, against the Orioles.
The others on the list include: Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young, Brent Abernathy, and Esteban Yan.