The crowd at Rogers Centre stirred a bit when rookie Rowdy Tellez stepped into the batter’s box for the Toronto Blue Jays in the bottom of the sixth inning as a pinch hitter for Jonathan Davis.
The game was already in the bag for the home team – the Blue Jays wound up winning 10-3 over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night – but the moment was anything but academic for the 23-year-old.
One of the team’s top prospects, in his first Major League Baseball at-bat, Tellez unloaded on the first pitch he saw from Tampa Bay reliever Jake Faria and delivered a solid blow to the gap in right-centre.
As Tellez pulled into second base with a double that carded Toronto’s ninth run on the evening, the crowd of close to 18,000 provided him with an appreciative roar for a job well done.
And for Tellez, whose mother died last month of brain cancer, a tidal wave of emotions started to envelop him as he stood at second base.
“I was just trying not to cry,” Tellez said when asked afterwards what he was thinking of when he pulled into second. “Pretty much in a moment for me. My Dad’s flight got delayed, so he wasn’t here for it. My agent was the only one here.
“It was just a real emotional moment for me. Kind of forgot how many outs there were.”
His hit got the Blue Jays public relations department diving deep into the record book, ultimately determining that Tellez became just the third player in franchise history with a pinch-hit extra-base rap in his first MLB plate appearance.
Tellez said the supportive reaction from the home-town crowd was also gratifying, but not surprising.
“Toronto’s a loving place – Canada,” said Tellez, a native of Sacramento, Calif. “We’re playing for a whole country so it was very, very warming to hear the whole stadium behind my back.
“That was such a great feeling.”
One of the September call-ups by the Blue Jays as they play out the string on a lost season, Tellez was asked what he'll do now for an encore.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just want to keep playing and keep being up here and keep enjoying my time here. Having fun and a great group of guys.
“It’s nothing short of amazing to get your first career big league hit. Still just in shock at what’s going on.”