McBride gets callup, makes big league debut

McBride gets callup, makes big league debut

DENVER -- Though starting pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Alex White have gotten most of the attention since coming to the Rockies from Cleveland in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade a year ago, multi-position player Matt McBride has also been heralded as a key part of the trade.

Drafted as a catcher by the Indians in 2006, McBride was in the lineup at first base Saturday for his big league debut. After working the count full and striking out against Madison Bumgarner in his first at-bat, McBride singled in the fifth and doubled in a run in the seventh, later scoring in the same inning and going 2-for-4 on the night.

"I thought Matt McBride represented himself extremely well," manager Jim Tracy said. "You see another guy who moving forward has a really good chance of being offensively oriented. He took some great at-bats tonight."

McBride learned of his callup Friday night in Des Moines, where the Triple-A Sky Sox were playing a series. His father, George, had driven from New Jersey to watch his son play in Iowa, but he quickly gassed up and steered on to Colorado for McBride's Major League debut.

"He did the navigation thing on his phone, and it was 10 or 11 hours," McBride said of his father's journey. "So he dropped me off at the airport, I took the flight and he drove. He got here right around game time."

The 27-year-old Pennsylvanian has played 653 games in the Minors, with roughly equal playing time in the infield (131), outfield (140) and behind the plate (133) heading into the 2012 season.

"That's the beauty of the guy, is the versatility," Tracy said. "There could be things in-game-wise strategically, depending on how we go from one game to the next with a starting pitcher, that opens the door for you to do this or do that and move this piece from point A to point B to create an offensive matchup. All that is in play."

Without question, McBride's greatest asset is his bat. Though he's never hit over .287 over the course of a full Minor League season, he was hitting .354 (130-for-367) in 91 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs, with 10 homers, 36 doubles, five triples, 77 RBIs, and a .941 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) highlighting his Pacific Coast League Mid-Season All-Star campaign.

"What a wonderful season he's had up to this point," Tracy said. "He's a big-time bat-to-ball guy, he's a gap-to-gap guy, and he has occasional power. You must give the young man his due. There's no better time to find out and gather some information about this guy than right now.

"Certainly from what we've seen in Triple-A I think you'd have to step away right now and say, 'Pretty good with the bat.' But let's see how some of that plays out up here at this level. This is a little different level. This is the next level."

McBride admitted to some nerves as he contemplated that next level before the game, but by the time he'd fielded the tail end of a first-inning double-play ball, he was settling into his comfort zone.

"It felt great," he said of his first moment in the Majors. "Obviously I have to try and just relax out there and just try to have fun. That's all you can do. Definitely the nerves can get to you a little bit."