CLEVELAND, Ohio – Gabriel Arias’ major-league debut Wednesday included several firsts for the 22-year-old Cleveland Guardians prospect, but it also featured something that’s never happened before to begin a big league career.
Arias became the first player since at least 1901 to reach base via an error in each of his first two plate appearances as the Guardians found the White Sox, 11-1 in the first game of a doubleheader. He batted twice in the second inning, scoring his first major-league run as Cleveland sent 13 batters to the plate.
With Cleveland leading by a run in the second inning, Arias sent a ground ball to White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. After bobbling the ball, Anderson’s throw was late to first base. Chicago challenged the call of safe, but it was upheld upon review. Later in the innings, Arias reached on another fielding error by Anderson, his third miscue of the first two innings.
Hits will come for Arias, there’s no doubt about that, but manager Terry Francona said he looks at Wednesday as an opportunity to let Arias get his feet wet in the big leagues. Arias was added to Cleveland’s roster as the 29th man ahead of the twinbill, but Francona said he’s scheduled to return to Triple-A Columbus following the nightcap.
“Maybe he helps us win a game or two, but it also gives him a taste knowing he’s going back (to Columbus),” Francona said. “That way he won’t put pressure on himself.”
In nine games with Columbus, Arias hit .278 with a home run and six RBI in 36 at-bats. His .822 OPS was third on the club behind Mitchell Tolman and Oscar Gonzalez (.962). The Venezuela native batted .571 in seven spring training games with a double and three RBI in seven games. Last spring, Arias hit .615 in eight games with a 1.307 OPS and five RBI.
Arias said it was difficult when he didn’t make the club out of spring training, comparing the feeling to 2021 when he spent the entire season at Triple-A Columbus.
“I felt like I had the same type of performance that I had last year,” Arias said through interpreter Augustine Rivero. “But what didn’t change was my mentality, my mindset, knowing that I had to keep doing my same level of effort because I know it will turn into an opportunity at some point this year.”
Arias admitted he got emotional when he arrived in the clubhouse early Wednesday and saw his name in the starting lineup.
“I must confess a couple of tears came down,” Arias said. “I knew I was getting called up, but I didn’t expect that I was going to be playing right away.”
Arias said there’s no gameplan from an organizational perspective that he takes from at-bat to at-bat.
“It’s more like everybody’s personalities and I don’t want to change that, I don’t want to change what I’ve been doing in the minors,” Arias said. “I’m going to continue being the aggressive hitter that I’ve been and I’ll be ready to be the hitter that I know that I can be.”
With his wife, Paola, and his father in law in the stands, Arias said getting the call made him think of his grandfather, who first put the goal in his mind of getting to the big leagues.
“He was the one taking me to baseball games when I was a little kid,” Arias said. “Without that support you’re not able to become a player at any age.”
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