What Red Sox’s Alex Cora Told Rookie Zack Kelly Following MLB Debut

Kelly pitched an inning of scoreless work Monday

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August 30, 2022

Boston Red Sox rookie pitcher Zack Kelly will never forget Aug. 29, 2022.

Kelly, a journeyman pitcher who spent five years in three different minor-league systems, became the 22,801st player to make their major league debut.

An accomplishment in itself, Kelly’s debut was also one of great success. The former Oakland Athletics undrafted free agent went one scoreless inning, striking out two and giving up a base hit. The Red Sox didn’t push their luck with the rookie, choosing to pull him after the inning — but manager Alex Cora made sure to remind the journeyman of how special the moment was.

“Congrats kid. You’re forever a big-leaguer,” Cora told Kelly at the top step of the dugout.

Before the game, Kelly spoke about how he would approach his craft now that he reached the major leagues. The 27-year-old’s answer was about what would be expected of someone who was heading into the unknown.

“Just do the same thing,” Kelly told NESN’s Jahmai Webster. “What I was doing down there was successful, so hopefully I can continue to do that up here and don’t try to change anything because you’re moving up. Just trying to continue to pound the zone and force contact, make some pitches and hopefully everything will turn out the same.”

With Boston quickly losing grip of the season, they decided to give Kelly a shot after he posted a 2.72 earned run average in 49 2/3 inning pitched for Triple-A Worcester this season. Early returns look promising, but it will take a strong string of performances to earn the trust of the Red Sox coaching staff — something Kelly looks capable of.

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Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports Images
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