The ball from his first major league hit sat in his locker, and Orioles rookie outfielder Xavier Avery promised he’d give it a good home.
“Put it in my trophy room at home, back in Atlanta,” Avery said. “I’m going to hold on to it, and I’m never going to lose it.”
And the memories of a night of firsts will also last forever. In the Orioles’ 8-5 loss to the Yankees, Avery tallied his first hit – a leadoff double in the first inning – and drove in this first run with a fifth-inning triple that scored Robert Andino. Avery scored both times he was on base.
“It felt good to help the team get going,” he said. “That’s my job as a leadoff hitter, to get things going. So it always feels good to do what I’m supposed to do, basically.
“I got rid of [the nerves] yesterday, honestly,” Avery added. “Today, I was real calm today on defense and at the plate. I just felt good today.”
Avery, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Norfolk before Sunday’s game, was hitless in four at-bats in his major league debut that day. But in his first at-bat Monday, he took an Ivan Nova pitch to right-center field for a double for his first big league hit.
When he reached second base, he looked to one side and saw future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, who moved into 16th place on baseball’s all-time hit list later in the night. On the other side was Robinson Cano, one of the game’s best hitters.
“When I got there, [Jeter] started talking to me and he was asking me questions like, is that my first hit, and stuff,” Avery said. “So it felt good. I look over and I see Cano on the other side, and he comes over and said congratulations. So it was a great feeling to have my first hit today here in Baltimore.”
Yes, the Orioles collectively shouldn’t be in awe of pinstripes, but you have to pardon Avery. It’s been a whirlwind for him. After just 33 games in Triple-A, he suddenly found himself in not only the majors, but at the top of the Orioles' batting order for two straight days. And on Monday, he showed he just might belong here.
“I was real proud of him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That was a big night for him. He put a lot of good at-bats together. He was patient. I assume there's a lot of emotion going on there, but he doesn't wear it on his sleeve. I like that. I like the pace at which he plays the game. He presents a real calm image. "