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Welcome to the bigs: Dalbec HRs in debut

@IanMBrowne
August 30, 2020

BOSTON -- Before the emotion-filled moment of hitting his first Major League homer could come for Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec, he first needed to put the pedal to the metal and get to Fenway Park. It was a wild Sunday for Boston's No. 3 ranked prospect (per MLB Pipeline),

BOSTON -- Before the emotion-filled moment of hitting his first Major League homer could come for Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec, he first needed to put the pedal to the metal and get to Fenway Park.

It was a wild Sunday for Boston's No. 3 ranked prospect (per MLB Pipeline), which started innocently enough. At about 11 a.m. ET, he was at the alternate training site in Pawtucket, R.I., stretching out and getting ready for batting practice.

Box score

Shortly thereafter, the Red Sox traded Mitch Moreland to the Padres for two prospects.

The immediate spinoff of that move was that Dalbec would become the first baseman for the Red Sox. Not just for the rest of the season (and who knows how long after that) but for Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. game against the Nationals at Fenway Park.

In what wound up a dream-like MLB debut for Dalbec and a 9-5 win for the Red Sox, the first thing Dalbec needed to do was pack.

“[Pawtucket manager] Billy [McMillon] called me into his office and told me to hurry up and pack,” said Dalbec. “I went back to the hotel, grabbed my suitcase, threw some stuff in there and then hit the road.”

Fortunately, the ride from Pawtucket to Boston is only about 45 minutes. Once he turned the ignition on in his rental car, Dalbec called his parents to tell them he was on the way to the Major Leagues. Then he called some other important people in his life.

When Dalbec got to Fenway, there was basically enough time to greet some members of the coaching staff and teammates, do some minimal pregame work and then play baseball.

It was all moving so fast, which was good, because the corner infielder didn’t have much time to think or get nervous.

He let his instincts take over. And in his second at-bat, on an 0-2 pitch by Nats righty Javy Guerra, Dalbec belted a two-run homer down the line in right field.

The first home run -- and hit -- of his career was tough to see, thanks to a blinding sun and swirling wind in right field.

Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton never saw it, not that he could have done anything about it. The baseball landed well into the seats in right, projected at 373 feet by Statcast.

“I knew I barreled it,” said Dalbec. “I didn’t really know where at first and then I kind of saw it right over the pole so I was hoping that it stayed fair.”

And then he ran around the bases and wondered where his 230-pound frame had gone.

“I felt pretty weightless out there, honestly,” Dalbec said. “It was very surreal. Everything kind of happened so fast. I think that helped me out today. I pretty much just showed up, got a couple of swings in the cage, played catch with [José] Peraza for a couple of minutes and then I was in there. So I think that helped me, honestly, not really thinking about anything. I just went out there and tried to play.”

Though there is a lot to like about Dalbec as a player, his power tool has always been his biggest separator.

The baseball that Dalbec smashed over the wall will go to the two people who have had the biggest impact on his life.

“I’ll give it to my parents,” said Dalbec. “They sacrificed a lot for me to play all the time throughout the years. Lots of traveling, lots of money on travel baseball and just playing a lot. I owe it all to them.”

Dalbec, who added a bloop single in the seventh, is likely to get the majority of playing time at first base for the rest of the season, though Michael Chavis will also be mixed in.

The 25-year-old Dalbec could also see some time at his natural position of third base when Rafael Devers needs a day off.

“Yeah, it’s a great opportunity to get some at-bats, get some playing time under my belt, and show people what I can do, but continue to get better every day. That’s the biggest thing,” Dalbec said.

In Dalbec and Devers, you could be looking at a corner infield that will be around for a long time in Boston. Devers, just 23 years old, also had a big day, going 4-for-4 with a pair of homers.

You get the sense Devers was more excited about what Dalbec did than about his own monster day.

“It brings a ton of energy,” Devers said. “Mostly he’s such a great kid, such a great person, having him around brings a ton of energy. You see something like that so early in his career and we’re extremely excited for him, so happy for him. Bobby is a person who brings that good spirit and good vibes. The team was very excited for him.”

“Yeah, pretty fun to see,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “First game in the big leagues and hitting a homer? Pretty cool. And I think you need that. When you come up, you need to have a good first day. I know there were a couple strikeouts, but you still need to have a good first day and defensively, [he] made some nice plays. So I thought it was a great day for him.”

Once the fast-paced day had finally slowed down, Dalbec took some time to reflect on the journey that got him to Sunday.

“It means a lot,” Dalbec said. “I think about all the tough times playing -- Minor Leagues, college, all that stuff. Everything that’s kind of led up to this moment. Today was kind of a fire drill, like I said earlier. It’s very surreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.