Escobar survives nerves in big league debut

Escobar survives nerves in big league debut

Escobar survives nerves in big league debut
DETROIT -- Eduardo Escobar paused for a moment during Saturday's pregame interview session to reach into his locker and get a copy of the Detroit Free Press sports section. He actually had numerous copies of a shot featuring a smiling Escobar at first after his first Major League hit in the eighth inning on Friday and an angry Justin Verlander also in frame, with Verlander believing he hit the base before Escobar.

The call went in Escobar's favor, and the nerves of his debut officially disappeared.

"I was definitely very nervous at first, because Verlander's a great pitcher," said Escobar through translator Jackson Miranda. "But I listened to what Omar [Vizquel] was telling me before the game, just to relax and concentrate and pretty much take all the noise in the stands out of my head and just concentrate on the pitch."

Escobar didn't have to wait long to be tested after entering in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement for shortstop Alexei Ramirez, as Miguel Cabrera hit a hard grounder to him that was bobbled but thrown to first in time for the out. Escobar shared the story on Saturday that Cabrera looked at him before getting in the box as if he was going to test him, and then launched the grounder.

It was Cabrera, who is from the same town of Aragua, Venezuela, as Escobar, who retrieved the first hit baseball.

"Miguel asked me if I was nervous, and I said yes," Escobar said. "Miguel said, 'Don't worry about it, it's natural.'"

And Escobar can tell his kids that career hit No. 1 knocked a potential Cy Young winner from the game.

"I have the proof that I'll send back home," Escobar said.