09/16/08 7:51 PM ET
Rays can find sunshine after opener
Jaso, Perez, Talbot experience night of firsts against Red Sox
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Although the outcome is one the players are likely to forget, Monday night was full of special moments: the Major League debut of right-hander Mitch Talbot, the first big league hit for rookie John Jaso and Fernando Perez's first start at Tropicana Field.
"I was a little jumpy," Jaso said of his sixth-inning single off Boston reliever Chris Smith. "And it kind of happened pretty fast after I hit it."
For a brief moment, Jaso also thought he was going to miss out on collecting his souvenir, as Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis faked like he was going to throw the ball into the stands.
"Then he was like, 'Hey man, I wouldn't do that to you,'" Jaso said laughing.
Called up on Sept. 2, the young backstop -- who made his debut as a pinch-hitter four days later -- was thrilled to notch the right-field single in just his second Major League at-bat.
"I know that my playing time is very limited up here," Jaso said. "But it was nice that I could get a hit in that limited amount of time."
Talbot -- who, along with fellow righty Jeff Niemann, joined the Rays prior to Monday's game -- also made the most of what is expected to be limited playing time. The starter-turned-reliever was summoned for a three-inning stint in place of an ineffective Scott Kazmir.
"Obviously, I was a little nervous, a little jittery," Talbot said. "It was kind of nerve-wracking against Boston, but there's not a whole lot of pressure when you come into a [blowout] game like that. They just want you to eat up some innings. I felt like I did that all right."
The 24-year-old Talbot came on in the fourth inning, and he allowed four earned runs on five hits, including home runs to Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury.
"I wanted to do a little better," Talbot said, adding that he hoped his initial nerves had sufficed. "Hopefully, all of that is behind me, being in there. [I'm] finding out it's really the same game, just a little bit better players."
Perez was equally diplomatic in assessing his first time playing at Tropicana Field. Starting in place of injured center fielder B.J. Upton (left quadriceps strain), the speedy outfielder said his biggest adjustment was following the ball, despite the catwalks and the dome's white walls.
"It's not the hardest thing in the world, but it's a little awkward," Perez said of The Trop's nuances. "But I'll get it -- just working hard, taking balls off the bat in [batting practice] and stuff like that."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.