PITTSBURGH -- By the time you read this, Matt Hague's Major League debut may be over. So the 26-year-old strongman may be coming to. Hague made his bow Saturday night in a fishbowl: Playing first, batting No. 5 in the starting lineup, facing left-hander Cliff Lee. "That's why they call it the big leagues," manager Clint Hurdle said prior to the game, smiling over stiff challenge. "There'll be a lot of emotion out there for Matt. At the end of the day, when the game's over, he'll be able to catch his breath.
"I can remember mine [big league debut]. You prepare for this for such a long time, then it's on. For me, it was somewhat of a blur." It was also a blast: On the second at-bat of his Major League debut on Sept. 18, 1977, for the Royals, Hurdle smacked a two-run homer in the fifth to break up a scoreless game with Seattle. Hurdle, incidentally, was also in the significant five-hole in the Kansas City lineup. Hague and Lee had met twice in Spring Training, with the lefty retiring the rookie both times. A very small sample size, but having already faced the pitcher against whom he makes his debut had to relax Hague a little bit.