Swihart gets first hit in big league debut

Swihart gets first hit in big league debut

BOSTON -- Ever since Blake Swihart was selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, he tried to envision what it would be like to throw on the gear and catch a game at Fenway Park.

Saturday, a day after Ryan Hanigan suffered a broken bone in his right hand, Swihart got to find out.

It was an eventful debut which included Swihart's first career hit, a mad dash from first to home on a double by Mookie Betts, and a solid afternoon of execution with starting pitcher Wade Miley. The only downer for Swihart is that the performance came in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees.

"I was definitely nervous, but I had to turn it into focus," said Swihart. "I had a big job to do."

Though this was just the first day of Swihart's career, it was a big milestone.

"I thought about it almost every day. It's a dream come true," Swihart said a couple of hours before recording an infield single in the fifth inning off Nathan Eovaldi for his first Major League hit.

By the end of the day, Swihart had the baseball from that first hit, and he'll find a special place for it.

Just as Swihart used his speed to leg out the hit, he used it on the double by Betts that hit high off the Green Monster in the seventh inning. There aren't many catchers who can run like Swihart.

"He's got age and athleticism on the side, so he has the ability, as we saw today, to score from first on a ball off the wall," said manager John Farrell. "It's one game, keep in mind. I think there's a reason why so many people are attracted to him in the game, and certainly as highly as we think of him as well."

What the Red Sox need most out of Swihart is the ability to call a good game and control the game behind the plate.

"I saw a calm, cool, composed guy with great potential. He was able to actually understand everything. He was able to retain a lot of stuff we had talked about," said pitching coach Juan Nieves.

The game ended with Swihart striking out looking on a nasty 0-2 curveball from Yankees right-hander Dellin Betances. The final pitch was set up by two near-unhittable heaters. It's safe to say Swihart didn't see many pitchers like that at Triple-A.

"I've seen 98 before but not those shadows, so I'll tip my hat to him," said Swihart. "He was pretty good. That was the first time I ever faced him. I was just trying to go up there and get one of those early fastballs. But it didn't work out. Just trying to go up there and compete."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.