After 13 years in the minors, Pirates' Maggi makes MLB debut

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Making his major league debut, Pittsburgh Pirates' Drew Maggi (39) fouls off a pitch from Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Alex Vesia during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, April 26, 2023. Maggi struck out and the Pirates won 8-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH – After 13 years in the minor leagues, Drew Maggi was greeted with a standing ovation when he made his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

The 33-year-old, who played 1,154 games in the minors, pinch hit for five-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen in the eighth inning with the Pirates ahead by seven runs. Maggi saw four pitches from Alex Vesia, striking out on a slider, in an at-bat that included a pitch-clock violation by the rookie batter.

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“It’s the best strikeout I ever had,” Maggi said with a smile after the Pirates beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-1.

After making 4,494 plate appearances in the minors, Maggio was called up from Double-A Altoona on Sunday when outfielder Bryan Reynolds was placed on the bereavement list. Manager Derek Shelton didn’t find a spot to use Maggi during his first two games in Pittsburgh and Maggi was fearful of a repeat of 2019, when he was called up by Minnesota for a few days but did not appear in a game.

Shelton, who was Twins’ bench coach then, was thrilled that he was able to get Maggi in.

“That was cool. That was really cool,” Shelton said. “I mean to be able to, as long as I’ve known him, to be able to be the person that was telling him (to pinch-hit) was just really cool.”

"This is it. This is the moment," Maggio recalled thinking.

With fans chanting his name and teammates eagerly watching from the dugout rail, Maggi fouled a fastball deep down the left-field line and fell behind 0-2 on the clock violation as the crowd of 12,152 booed plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

After fouling another fastball to the right side, Maggi took a high-and-outside fastball before swinging over a pitch in the dirt. He ran to first, where catcher Austin Wynn's throw to Freddie Freeman easily beat him for the out.

Maggi said he never had any regrets for spending more than a decade in the minors. However, he admitted Wednesday’s at-bat made all those years of chasing his dream worth it.

“I love baseball,” Maggi said. “I was grinding for 13 years but I was doing what I loved. The ultimate goal is the big leagues. Just kind of getting here, my name is in history. I put on a big league uniform, and I shared the field with the world’s greatest players.”

Maggi spent a few moments after the game visiting with family along the box seat railing. The magnitude of the moment hit him once he saw his parents, who had made the trip from Phoenix, and other family members.

“There were a lot of `I love you. We’re proud of you. You did it!'” Maggi said. “I saw my dad crying. I don’t think I ever saw him cry before. All those years, I wondered what I would say to my parents if that moment ever were to come. They’ve been right there with me. Hearing those words made it all worthwhile. I know the last 13 years have not been wasted.”


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