OAKLAND — If Brandon Maurer is nervous, he was doing his best to hide it as he sat at his locker before Wednesday night’s game.
It was less than 24 hours before the 22-year-old Seattle Mariners’ major league debut and the biggest moment of professional career, and yet his greatest concern was securing enough tickets for the 24 guests planning on attending this afternoon’s game at the O.co Coliseum.
“I haven’t figured that out yet,” he said. “So I will have to see how that works.”
It usually works out by hitting up your teammates to get their complimentary tickets for the game.
Luckily for Maurer, his teammates remember how memorable that first big league game was for them. So giving up their tickets isn’t usually an issue. Also Oakland isn’t usually high on the list of road destinations for players’ families.
Of course, teammates being teammates and Maurer being a rookie, they won’t make it easy on him.
Those same teammates have also given plenty of advice to him about his big day.
“Everyone is trying to help out in their own way,” Maurer said. “Basically they are all saying it’s the same game. Go out there and feed off the energy of the crowd and go after the hitters.”
Maurer got two pretty good examples to learn from after watching Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma throw back-to-back quality starts, combining to allow one earned run and five hits.
“Yeah, they were pretty good,” Maurer said.
Obviously, Mariners manager Eric Wedge isn’t expecting Maurer to be that dominant. But it’s not as if Maurer isn’t capable of it.
“Really, I just want him to go out there and continue to keep doing what he’s been doing,” Wedge said. “I don’t want him to try to do any more or do any less, just stay focused, relax and pitch. He’s good enough to have success here. For him to think any more or less about it is just not necessary after what he did this spring.”
The last rookie pitcher to make his big league debut as part of the opening day starting rotation was Michael Pineda in 2011. Before that, Freddy Garcia debuted on April 7, 1999.
The last time a Mariners pitcher skipped Class AAA to open the season in the big league starting rotation were Mike Hampton and John Cummings in 1993.
“I’m getting excited,” Maurer said.
Maurer was admittedly a little wide-eyed on opening night with a sold out and raucous crowd.
“It was cool,” he said. “The crowd here was massive. It was a cool thing to be a part of.”
Allowing Maurer to have three days at the same stadium before making his first big league start there will be beneficial. He’s thrown off the bullpen mound and is familiar with his surroundings.
“I think it’s helped I’m able to kind of get comfortable with it,” he said.
Maurer is saying all the right things leading up to it.
“It’s the same game,” he said. “You have just have do what you do and throw what you throw. Watching those first two games, that’s what they did.”