By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
ARLINGTON, Texas – In Texas Rangers red, Mitch Moreland saw his life’s dream unfold Thursday night.
In his Major League Baseball debut, the former Amory and Mississippi State standout made the most of his opportunity at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Starting at first base in a 7-4 win against Oakland, Moreland singled in his first big league at-bat, narrowly missed a home run to deep center field and singled in his final at-bat, going 2 for 4 on his first night on the game’s biggest stage.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Moreland told a throng of reporters in the postgame clubhouse. “I was just trying to go up there and relax a little bit and after seeing those first couple of pitches, it really helped me out.”
Vin Mazzaro went to a 3-1 count against Moreland, who then singled to right field to open his Major League career.
With dad Charles, mom Angie, sister Mallory, Amory coach Chad Williams and even his girlfriend and her parents two rows behind home plate, Moreland glanced their direction after the single.
“They all had big smiles on their face. Of course I know I did, too,” Moreland said.
Texas manager Ron Washington’s catch on the keepsake ball even made a Sportscenter Top 10 play. The ball sat in Moreland’s locker after the game.
Moreland said Oklahoma City coach Bobby Jones called him with the news at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday.
He cleaned out his Triple-A locker and drove three hours to Arlington.
“He told me to be here at 2 and I think I got here around 12:30,” Moreland said with a laugh. “I was extremely excited. Words can’t describe it.”
Moreland’s call-up comes with Ian Kinsler’s groin injury and sends first baseman Chris Davis to back to the farm to make room for newly acquired Jorge Cantu. Davis was hitting only .188.
The Rangers, 81⁄2 games ahead of Oakland going into Friday night’s game in Anaheim, plan to platoon right-handed Cantu and lefty Moreland at the position.
Moreland, a 17th round draft pick in 2007 who mainly played the outfield in the minor leagues, has been playing first base at Oklahoma City in his last 12 starts. It’s where the Rangers feel he can play at the Major League level.
In Triple A, Moreland was hitting .289 with 12 home runs, 29 doubles and 65 RBIs in 95 games. He came to the Bigs after hitting .345 in his last 45 games with nine home runs, 13 doubles and 40 RBIs.
‘Good first game’
All-Star teammate Josh Hamilton said Moreland look liked he belong under the lights.
“I thought he handled himself really well,” Hamilton said. “He had good at bats, wasn’t too jumpy.He might have thought he was jumpy but he looked good, looked like he belonged out there. It was a good first game for him.”
In a postgame interview with Fox Sports Southwest, Moreland was hit from behind with a congratulatory shaving cream pie to the face.
He then hugged Mallory and shared the moment with Charles.
“I feel like it was as much his dream as it was mine,” Moreland said. “Since I’ve been able to walk, I’ve wanted to be a professional baseball player. He’s helped me along the way so much. It’s unbelievable to have him here and experience this with him. It was the best tasting shaving cream I’ve ever had.”