O'Day weathers Majors debut
Reliever's poise under fire noted by Angels skipper
MINNEAPOLIS -- There was anxiety, of course. You make your Major League debut only once, and this was it for Darren O'Day, the long shot who gave it his best shot and made the Angels' Opening Day pitching staff.
Never one to let a guy sit around and wonder if he belongs, manager Mike Scioscia had O'Day warming up and then taking the mound in the season opener, in front of a packed house at the Metrodome, in a one-run game in the eighth inning on Monday night.
O'Day retired the first man that he faced, 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau, but the Twins managed to load the bases, in part because of a bloop double by Jason Kubel. O'Day, showing the resilience and intelligence that defined his work all spring, made it through the crisis by striking out Brendan Harris after an intentional walk and then retiring Adam Everett on a lazy fly ball.
"He was very cool out there, calm," Scioscia said of the 25-year-old side-armer from the University of Florida whose two Minor League seasons took him as high as Double-A Arkansas. "He was poised out there. He wasn't taken out of his game.
"That was a big strikeout on Harris. He made some good pitches when he got Everett, too. With the bases loaded, there wasn't a lot of wiggle room. He did a good job."
O'Day said that it was his intention to do everything he could "to prove I belong here." He certainly left a favorable impression on pitching coach Mike Butcher as well as Scioscia.
"After that intentional walk [to Mike Lamb], he maintained his composure," Butcher said. "He showed nice poise and made quality pitches. He got Harris on a hard sinker in. He looked comfortable for a guy pitching for the first time up here, in a 3-2 game.
"That was a big test for Darren, and he came through nicely."
For family members from Jacksonville to Chicago, O'Day's big day was one to frame in a hall of memories.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.