BOSTON (CBS) — Of course there were a few nerves for Red Sox rookie Sam Travis on Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old was making his Major League debut, batting seventh and playing first base against the Texas Rangers. He had family in the stands, with his parents and sister among the 36,000-plus at Fenway Park.
But those nerves quickly subsided, and Boston’s No. 3 prospect looked like he belongs in the bigs. Travis collected a pair of hits in Boston’s 9-4 win over the Rangers, the first member of the Red Sox with two hits in his debut since Will Middlebrooks did it in 2012.
“I was a little nervous in the first inning, yeah. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t,” he told reporters after the win. “After the first inning, I was good to go.”
Travis was robbed of a hit in his first Major League at-bat when Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus made a fantastic play on a hard chopper up the middle in the third inning. It was that “Welcome to the Majors, rook” kind of moment for Travis, but he didn’t let it rattle him.
And he didn’t have to wait long to log that first career hit, either. He hit another hard chopper up the middle to lead off the bottom of the fifth which grazed off the glove of Texas starter Martin Perez. Andrus couldn’t fire to first in time to get Travis, and the rookie had a new baseball to add to his collection.
The normally all-business slugger couldn’t help but crack a smile while sanding on first base. It’s such an unnatural reaction, he didn’t even realize that he allowed for a brief moment of emotion.
“I didn’t even know if I did,” Travis said of his smirk. “I was leading off the inning and just trying to get something going for the team. … I don’t even know what I was thinking. I was just kind of happy.”
Travis roped a one-out single in the seventh inning off a 1-0 pitch to grab his second career hit, putting runners at the corners for Boston. It knocked Perez out of the game, and helped start a seven-run rally for the Red Sox.
While his offensive abilities have never been in question, Travis’ defense has. He made a minor gaffe in the fourth inning when he left first base unattended on a Shin-Soo Choo grounder back to Boston starter Chris Sale. He got caught in no-man’s land while rushing at the ball, but Sale easily ran to first for the unassisted put out. Dustin Pedroia had a brief chat with Travis after the play.
That play didn’t get to him, either, as the rookie showed off some solid leather in the seventh. He made a diving snag on a hard grounder off the bat of Rougned Odor on the first pitch of the inning, and got his own unassisted putout on the play.
Overall, it was an impressive evening for a youngster making his debut.
“I don’t know if you’re going to do a whole lot better,” Boston manager John Farrell said of Travis. “He was good. He made a couple plays defensively. He looks most comfortable in the batter’s box, I’ll tell you that. He was very much under control. He took some borderline pitches. A very solid night, certainly a memorable one for he and his family and it was great to see him in his first day contribute as he did.”
Travis called the Fenway atmosphere “amazing” and didn’t let all of those eyeballs locked on him impact his play at the plate or in the field. He’s expected to start at first when the opposition starts a left-hander, and after one game, looks ready to contribute in the big leagues.
“When my name gets called upon, just try to help the team win,” he said calmly. “Whatever I’ve got to do to help the team win, that’s what I’m going to try to do.”