A long wait, a mad dash: Crawford's MLB debut was a memorable one

AP PhotoBoston Red Sox rookie Kutter Crawford made his big league debut on Sunday against the Cleveland Indians.

This past Thursday, Kutter Crawford was getting ready for that evening’s start with the Worcester Red Sox when he received exciting, and somewhat terrifying news. He wasn’t going to pitch that night because the big league club needed him available to potentially pitch over the weekend.

In a matter of days, his lifelong dream of pitching in the big leagues could potentially come true.

The days that followed were filled with anxiety and uncertainty. He flew to Boston late Friday night not knowing whether he would pitch or not, and because his connecting flight was delayed he didn’t arrive in the city until early the next morning. He wound up waiting in limbo most of Saturday too, but once the team’s COVID test results indicated Nick Pivetta wouldn’t be available, he officially got the green light.

“It’s kind of been a crazy 24 hours,” Crawford said after Sunday’s 11-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians. “I got in at 4:30 [Saturday] morning, kind of was uncertain what the plan was with all the COVID stuff, I was told to be on standby, and after the game I was notified I’d be starting today and tried to get as much sleep as possible.

“Obviously that’s my dream to make my major league debut, so being on standby wasn’t the easiest thing to do,” he added later. “But I also knew whenever I got my opportunity I had to make the most of it.”

Once he knew Sunday would be the day, the 25-year-old rookie was able to get word out to friends and family, many of whom were able to race up to Fenway Park on less than a day’s notice. The debut itself could have gone better, Crawford allowed five runs on five hits and two walks in two-plus innings of work, but reaching the major leagues is still an accomplishment in and of itself.

That was a point Red Sox manager Alex Cora made sure to drive home as he took him out in the top of the third.

“I wanted him to actually take a deep breathe and enjoy the situation. It’s Fenway Park, on a Sunday afternoon, there’s nothing better than that. There is only one MLB debut, right? And it doesn’t matter if it’s a good one or if you struggle, it’s still something you dream about as a kid. I wanted him to take a deep breath and look around, see the whole thing, because he probably didn’t do that before the game or during the game, and with time I know he’s going to contribute.”

“It was cool, he just spoke words of encouragement,” Crawford said. “Just kind of reassured me that I’m a big leaguer now and nobody can take that away from me.”

While the outing as a whole wasn’t good, Crawford demonstrated some intriguing stuff that could translate well to the big leagues with proper refinement. Crawford pounded the strike zone (57 pitches, 40 strikes) and was able to generate nine whiffs, including at least one each on all four of his pitches, which included a four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball and sinker.

“I can see it, stuff-wise he’s really good, and like I told him on the mound, he’s a big leaguer,” Cora said. “He had the experience, look around, it’s Fenway Park, packed house, probably he’s a little bit disappointed because of what happened today, but he’ll be a good one.”

There’s a good bet we haven’t seen the last of Crawford, and hopefully the next time he’s at Fenway it won’t be under such hectic circumstances.

Email: mcerullo@northofboston.com. Twitter: @MacCerullo.


Eagles fly together

When Kutter Crawford learned he would be making his big league debut, one of the first people he called was his college coach Dave Tollett, the head baseball coach at Florida Gulf Coast University. Tollett, who was recently at Fenway to see fellow FGCU alum Chris Sale return from Tommy John surgery, made the trip back up again to see Crawford on Sunday. As an added bonus, he now gets to stick around to see Sale pitch again on Monday. Quite a Labor Day weekend getting to see two former players pitch for the same big league team on back to back days!

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