Nicholas debuts with grandfather, 92, in seats

'I knew I had the ability, so I never gave up,' Rangers catcher says

Nicholas debuts with grandfather, 92, in seats

SEATTLE -- Rangers catcher Brett Nicholas achieved two dreams in one on Monday night's 7-3 win at Safeco Field.

He played in his first Major League baseball game, got his first hit and he left tickets for his 92-year-old grandfather Frank McCabe.

"It has always been my dream to leave tickets for my grandfather at Safeco Field, and today I did," Nicholas said. "He is a legendary player around here."

Nicholas helps guide Lewis' gem in MLB debut

Nicholas was born and raised in Phoenix but most of his family is from and still lives in the Puget Sound area. He left 25 tickets in all for Monday's game.

McCabe is a local Hall of Fame player who back in the late 1940s and early '50s pitched for the Fort Lewis Employees Association baseball team. They were known as the FLEA and McCabe was their all-time winningest pitcher. His greatest moment was in '50 when he struck out 24 over 14 innings against Fort Lewis. It may have been the greatest pitching performance in Valley League history.

"He also had the game-winning hit," Nicholas said. "That was an awesome game."

Nicholas was called up to the big leagues on Sunday after Robinson Chirinos went on the disabled list with a broken right forearm. Manager Jeff Banister decided to give Nicholas his first start on Monday because he had experience catching Colby Lewis and he wanted an extra left-handed bat in the lineup against Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.

Nicholas nabs Aoki

It was a long-awaited moment for the Rangers sixth-round pick in 2010 who had to give up catching early in his professional career because there appeared to be no room with Kellin Deglan, Tomas Telis, Jorge Alfaro and others in the Rangers' system. But he resumed catching a few years ago and is now in the big leagues.

"You work through some tough days," Nicholas said. "I knew I had the ability, so I never gave up. There were some long days but I knew it would be worth it in the end."

Mazara vs. Gallo

Nomar Mazara was 3-for-4 with a home run in his Major League debut on Sunday. Joey Gallo had a similar debut in '15 when he went 3-for-4 with a home run in his first Major League game.

Mazara's impressive MLB debut

Gallo ended up playing in 36 games and hitting .204 with six home runs, 14 RBIs and 57 strikeouts in 108 at-bats. The Rangers are hoping Mazara doesn't have similar struggles.

"Joey is a pure slugger," Banister said. "He is a home run hitter and his strikeouts are high. You know there are going to be some swing and misses there, but he's going to hit the ball a long way. He worked a lot on patience and seeing pitches in Spring Training.

"Nomar is more of an accomplished hitter who has power. He has the ability to hit to the opposite field and sit back on off-speed pitches."

Rangers beat

• Chirinos underwent surgery in Dallas on Monday and had a plate inserted in his ulna bone. The prognosis still has him missing 10-12 weeks.

Shin-Soo Choo, who is out 4-6 weeks with a strained right calf, had a platelet-rich plasma injection on Monday to help speed the healing.

Delino DeShields is dealing with a sore right shoulder so he got the night off on Monday, with Ryan Rua starting in left, Ian Desmond shifting to center and Rougned Odor being used in the leadoff spot.

• Rangers pitchers entered Monday's game with a 2-1 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio, the second highest in the American League.

• The Rangers are expected to face former teammate Yovani Gallardo on Saturday. That's his next scheduled start for the Orioles, who are in Arlington for a four-game series. Right now the Rangers are projected to face Chris Tillman on Thursday, Vance Worley on Friday and Mike Wright on Sunday. All four are right-handed.

• The Astros follow the Orioles into town and their rotation for the three-game series from April 19-21 is projected to be right-handers Scott Feldman and Doug Fister, and left-hander Dallas Keuchel.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.