Casas' debut: Sun on his body, great 'D,' first hit

Boston's No. 2 prospect picks up an infield single, dazzles at first in the Red Sox's win

September 4th, 2022

BOSTON -- The arrival of No. 2 Red Sox prospect Triston Casas, which has been eagerly anticipated for weeks, happened on Sunday at Fenway Park.

Casas, a towering left-handed hitter, was recalled from Triple-A Worcester for the finale of a four-game series against the Rangers and went 1-for-4, making contact in all of his plate appearances.

Before Casas got to the plate or to his position at first base in what wound up a 5-2 win for the Red Sox, he got to the ground.

In what looked like a unique earthing ritual for a player making his Major League debut, Casas was shirtless on the grass in right field and doing leg exercises while he soaked in the sun on a gorgeous late-summer day.

It turned out not to be as scientific as it looked.

“I don’t necessarily like caffeine,” said Casas. “I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks. I feel better after I get some sunlight on my body, and that’s what I do. I go out there in the grass, and I don’t think too much of it in terms of grounding or any science behind it. But I just feel better after I do it.”

Once it was time to play baseball, Casas looked the part. Batting sixth in manager Alex Cora’s lineup, Casas handled everything that came his way at first base, including a hot shot off the bat of Adolis García to end the top of the third inning.

In the first at-bat of his career in the first inning, Casas lofted one down the line in right that could have been a Fenway cheapie around Pesky’s Pole if it had curled a few more feet to the right. Instead, it was a flyout.

“That first at-bat, I didn’t feel my body. I’m glad I was able to make contact,” said Casas.

He got his first career hit in the fifth, a 98.9 mph grounder that shortstop Corey Seager couldn’t field cleanly. As they say, a liner to center in the box score, right?

“Yeah, you don’t choose how they come,” Casas said. “I’ll take all of them. I know Seager is a pretty good shortstop, and I don’t know how that one popped up on him, but I'm going to take it. First one in the books.”

Overwhelmed by emotion when he got the news of his promotion from Worcester manager Chad Tracy, Casas immediately called his dad in South Florida.

“I called him, and as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I broke down in tears,” said Casas. “I told him, ‘It’s coming true.’”

Though the Casas’ family didn’t make it to Fenway for Sunday’s final game of the homestand, they will enthusiastically go from the east to the west coast of Florida to see him play in a three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field that starts Monday.

Casas, 22, joined the Red Sox at a time when starting first baseman Eric Hosmer’s availability for the rest of the season is in limbo due to a back issue. Hosmer also went to American Heritage High School, and Casas considers him a mentor. In fact, Casas and Hosmer had a poignant moment in Cora’s office prior to Sunday’s game.

“Hos saw him in my office, comes in, and he caught my attention with what he said. ‘It was meant to be for me to be here and mentor you.’ That caught my attention,” said Cora. “That’s the cool thing about this game. You never know and you hear that, it’s like, ‘Wow, this is a cool day,’ and it made it a lot better.”

Cora made it clear that Casas did not get called up to sit on the bench.

“We’re going to use him the right way,” said Cora. “He’s going to play almost every day. He did an outstanding job the last few weeks, and I think this is the right time to call him up.”

By the time the game was over, Casas had only increased Cora’s confidence in him. Cora had Casas speak to the team in the clubhouse after it was over.

“He was very genuine, and it was cool. He’s a good player. I know the talent. I know what people expect of him offensively, but his baseball IQ is a good one,” said Cora. “He did some things today that I was like, ‘Oh, OK, he understands.’”

Such as?

“The awareness. He never panicked defensively. He’s locked in. He’s just the all-around player,” said Cora. “He knows. And he talks the game, which is music to my ears. I love it.”

While it isn’t always easy for the hot-shot prospect to make a strong first impression in a veteran-laden clubhouse, Casas did just that.

“He’s a very good player, and he knows that,” said Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story, who went 3-for-4 and crushed a three-run homer in the first inning. “That’s the kind of guy you want, and he seems pretty relaxed. I remember I was super nervous about my debut and couldn’t sit still. But it surprised me how relaxed [he was] because he knows this is where he’s supposed to be.”