PITTSBURGH — Few could have guessed that one of the most exciting players in Pittsburgh’s series victory against Boston would be a call-up from the minors.
But that was the case, as third baseman Chase d’Arnaud made his major league debut against the Red Sox, making an immediate impact.
“Awesome experience, it was a rush,” d’Arnaud said to me at his locker after the game.
In his first game on Friday, d’Arnaud did something few have been able to do in the 10-year history of PNC Park: hit a triple to left field. He showcased his speed and determination on the play, and that same attitude and athleticism came through on the defensive side of the ball as well.
He made two fine plays at third base, charging to field slowly hit ground balls to throw for outs at first base.
“He’s a very athletic young man,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after Saturday night’s win. “…He’s very instinctive. He’s looked very good over there so far. He’s probably made as good a play as you could want on that slow roller to the left side of the infield.”
That charging grounder has quickly become his patented play at third, as it happened with regularity for the rest of the series.
He continued to impress on Saturday night in game two of the series. His hustle from the batters box to first base resulted in an infield hit in the fifth inning and, after a Garrett Jones double, Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia botched a routine grounder, allowing d’Arnaud to score to improve the Pirates lead to 5-2.
It ended up being the winning run in a 6-4 Pirates victory.
“Day by day I’ve gotten more comfortable,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m obviously not extremely comfortable yet, but I’m getting used to the surroundings. I’m really having fun out there.”
On Sunday, d’Arnaud beat out a bunt down the third base line to load the bases in the fifth inning and set the table for Andrew McCutchen, who singled in the next at bat to give the Pirates a 2-1 advantage.
All told, it was an impressive three games. His style of play quickly caught on with the fans, who cheered him louder and louder every time his name was announced as he stepped in the batters box.
He sure picked the right weekend to make a positive impact, as a record total of 118,324 fans saw him during the three-game series for the first time.
“The fans have been awesome,” he said. “Everybody loves the Pirates here. (The) fan loyalty is great. Whenever I’m around town everybody is polite. I like the city of Pittsburgh. They’re all very welcoming.”
Maybe most importantly, he made the guy that called him to the majors, Pirates GM Neal Huntington, look like a pretty smart guy.
d’Arnaud hadn’t played third base since college, spending most of his time at shortstop for Triple-A Indianapolis. Despite that, Huntington trusted in d’Arnaud’s familiarity with the position and called him up to fill an immediate need on the left side of the infield.
“Chase has continued to make great progress offensively, he’s continued to make great progress defensively,” Huntington said when asked if d’Arnaud could be the shortstop of the future in Pittsburgh. “You see, third base is obviously his most comfortable position. For him to come up, after not having really been (at third) very much in the recent past … As we move forward he certainly is putting himself in the position to be an option for us at shortstop.”
Chris Gates | Bucs Blog