Red Sox’s Jeter Downs Thought MLB Debut Vs. Tigers Was ‘Coolest Thing’

Downs got the start at third base in his debut


June 22

Boston Red Sox infielder Jeter Downs couldn’t be entirely upset about his 0-for-4 showing at the plate against the Detroit Tigers.

Even after his performance in Boston’s 6-2 win, Downs was still ecstatic to have just lived out an opportunity of a lifetime, as the 23-year-old Red Sox prospect made his Major League Baseball debut on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

“That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Downs said, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “I still can’t believe it happened. I still can’t believe the game’s over. It felt so fast. Didn’t turn out the way I wanted to, but oh well. The team got the win and that’s the most important thing.”

After being called up to the big leagues for the first time on Monday, which came with a slight hiccup, Downs found himself in the lineup for the first time in the series finale against the Tigers. While Downs slid into the No. 9 spot in the order, the usual shortstop wasn’t at his normal position in the field.

Instead, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to put Downs at third base to give Rafael Devers the night off and Downs didn’t skip a beat at the hot corner despite never once playing there at any moment of his professional baseball career.

Downs was tested early as Harold Castro hit a sharp groundball to him, but Downs snagged it and threw on to first to end the top half of the opening frame. Downs made another solid defensive play to record an out in the second inning when he ranged to his left to field a grounder from Spencer Torkelson.

“Honestly, it felt pretty comfortable,” Downs said. “I took the advice the guys gave me, just go out there and be an athlete. Play it like you’re playing short, and that’s what I did.”

Downs’ introduction to the major leagues came with some difficulties at the plate. Downs, who owns a .180 batting average with 11 home runs at Triple-A Worcester this season, struck out three times and hit a ball to the warning track in left field in the sixth, but it was caught by Robbie Grossman.

Still looking for his first hit when he came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, the Fenway faithful got behind the rookie by chanting his name, which was somewhat strange to hear since the fanbase rooted against another Jeter, who wore pinstripes, for years.

“That was insane,” Downs said. “I had to step out and take a deep breath. Never had something like that happen before. That was definitely surreal to have the whole Fenway chanting my name, chanting for a Jeter. It was super cool and super exciting. I thank God every day for this opportunity.”

How long this opportunity lasts for Downs is unknown. As the Red Sox head off to Cleveland to begin a nine-game road trip starting Friday and reinforcements nearing a return, Downs could find himself right back in Triple-A after making his debut.

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