The pet rocks this James Outman inherited from Kanne Marshal Kazovsky at Triple-A Oklahoma City last season and traveled with him to Phoenix this spring dodgers Rookie outfielder to Chavez Ravine this week, though it hasn’t taken permanent residence in Outman’s locker.
“It was passed to me with the idea that it would bring good luck,” Outman said of the grey, fist-sized stone with a toothy smile drawn for a face with a black magic marker. “We had him as a mascot for the pitchers, and they started giving up too many hits.
“We thought it would be good for the thugs, so they gave it to me. But I think the expectation was that eventually I would pass ‘Rocko’ on to the next person.”
The next one will have to wait. Outman won’t drop the rock, not after crushing a two-run homer in the sixth inning of his first start at Dodger Stadium, a shot from opposite field to left center that sealed a 8:2 victory above that Arizona Diamondbacks before a sell-out crowd of 52,075 on Thursday night.
The left-handed Outman also went and kept scoring Will Smith’s tied two-run single in the third inning and singled into right field, he finished alert for second on a Jake McCarthy wobble and hit Smith’s sacrificial fly in the eighth.
“I don’t think any moment will be too big for him.” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Outman, who won a train roll by hitting .283 (15 for 53) with a team-leading team of eight extra base hits, three of them homers, and 11 RBI in 23 spring games.
“It’s his heartbeat, so to speak, his head. He just has a good, calm demeanor. There’s a calm confidence there. So it wasn’t surprising that he hit a homer tonight.”
Outman, 25, showed little emotion when Roberts informed him after Tuesday night’s Freeway Series exhibition finals against the Angels that he would be starting in midfield Thursday night.
“I think he kind of looked straight at me,” Roberts said. “He kind of nodded to me while chewing his gum. And that was it. It was good. I liked that. … He’s good at getting the emotion through the gum he’s always chewing.”
Two nights later, as he prepared for his first-ever opening day start, Outman’s stomach turned.
“Yes, definitely in the beginning,” Outman said when asked if he was nervous. “I couldn’t keep still when they were doing all this [pregame introductions]. But you know, when the game started, I calmed her down a bit.”
His first record appearance helped with that. Outman fell behind Arizona ace Zac Gallen with a two-strike count, but took the next four pitches for balls and put down an 86-mph switch just below the zone for a walk.
Outman finished third in Miguel Rojas’ ground-rule double to right field and scored when Smith hit a two-out, two-run single to right field to make it 2-2.
“I think it definitely relaxed me,” Outman said of the walk. “You know, just come to the base, run and score. And in that situation we finished the game, so at that point it just felt like we were in a ball game.”
Outman slammed at Gallen’s 88 mph cut fastball in the fourth, and the Dodgers scored three runs on RBI singles from Smith, JD Martinez and David Peralta in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead.
Outman followed his rookie colleague Miguel Varga‘Leadoff walk in the sixth by lining out a 94-mile fastball by reliever Cole Sulser 390 feet over the left-center wall for his second homer – he hit once in a cameo with the Dodgers in four last summer Play – and lead a 7-2.
He also hit an eighth-place insurance run after leading with a single to the right, finishing second with an error and scoring with Smith’s sacrificial fly, earning the Dodgers’ catcher four in-game RBIs.
As Outman prepared for Thursday night’s game, he heard a familiar refrain from veterans like first baseman Freddie Freeman and right fielder Mookie Betts.
“People have been saying you only get a first start on opening day, so really enjoy it,” Outman said. “Suck it all up.”
Outman appeared to be doing just that as he rounded bases on his first home run of the regular season at Dodger Stadium.
“It was cool,” Outman said. “The fans are great. It was fantastic. A dream came true.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source : sports.yahoo.com