NEW YORK (AP) — Trevor Rogers’ major league debut was only about half what he expected.
“A lot of jitters,” the Miami Marlins left-hander recalled. “And a lot of cardboard cutouts.”
Rogers, like the other 211 players who made their big league debuts in 2020, got an unusual introduction to baseball’s top level — a pandemic-shortened season when fans were almost entirely banned from the ballpark. Now, many of those players are back in the majors, and all those cutouts have been replaced by limited-capacity crowds that are still some of the biggest those rookies have seen.
“It has been amazing,” said fellow Marlins youngster Jazz Chisholm Jr. “I feel like every day is a new opening day for me because I’ve never had the chance to play with fans in the big leagues.”
Chisholm and Rogers both broke in with Miami last season, part of an up-and-coming club that overcame a season-stalling coronavirus outbreak to end a 16-year playoff drought.
Rogers admits the fans momentarily threw him off his game. The 23-year-old made his first start this season against St. Louis on April 5 and trailed 3-0 after his first inning on the mound. Mechanical issues were part of the problem, but he also acknowledged having those debut jitters all over again with 4,605 fans at Marlins Park.
“I was overeager, for sure,” he said. “Hearing the noise of the crowd, the talking, the chit-chatting, the cheering and booing and all that good stuff, it was something I had to get used to again. It definitely got the heart rate going a little faster.”
A first-round draft pick in 2017, Rogers adjusted just fine in his next turn — a Sunday matchup against two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom in New York. He outpitched the Mets’ ace in a 3-0 victory, aided by a stunning…