Team makes Alvarez's first opener memorable
Unproductive day can't dampen thrill of Pirates' victory
CHICAGO -- From an individual standpoint, this was not one of Pedro Alvarez's best days in a Pirates uniform. He candidly admitted as much afterward.
But for someone who consistently goes out of his way to highlight the team's efforts even when he shines, Alvarez can thank his teammates for making his first Opening Day an especially memorable one.
"It was very exciting," Alvarez said following the club's 6-3 win over the Cubs on Friday. "To open up here in Wrigley and to cap it off with a win made it all the more special."
Alvarez was one of eight Pirates players on a big league Opening Day roster for the first time. He lined up alongside them and the rest of his teammates and coaches during a chilly pregame introduction. It had been 25 years since Pittsburgh last began a season with such a scene at Wrigley Field. That was two years before Alvarez was born.
"I think guys are just anxious just to get started finally," Alvarez said. "Obviously, the guys who have been playing for a while with multiple Opening Days, I think their nerves are gone. Even for myself, the first Opening Day, I wasn't so much nervous as just anxious to get the season going."
Before making his first plate appearance of the season, Alvarez was in the middle of the Cubs' one-run first inning. He was unable to corral a tough chopper down the line by Starlin Castro that was fairly ruled an infield single. Chicago's Marlon Byrd was up next and followed with a ground ball at Alvarez.
Alvarez fielded the ball cleanly but sailed his throw over the head of first baseman Lyle Overbay. Castro scored from first and Byrd advanced an extra base.
There was little to highlight on the offensive end for Alvarez either, though Alvarez did collect the first stolen base of his career. He even beat Andrew McCutchen to that feat.
However, an 0-for-4 day was placated by a pair of teammates' swings. Asked to describe the dugout scene when Neil Walker gave the Pirates the lead with a fifth-inning grand slam, Alvarez threw out the term "hectic." He joked, too, that everyone had predicted the big hit was coming.
"We're a resilient bunch," Alvarez said. "We're always going to play hard for nine. I think that's the one message that we're going to send across. That's our type of baseball. Play hard for nine."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.