ARLINGTON -- In the moments after Monday's Opening Day win over the Rangers, rookie Yandy Diaz stood in front of his locker, holding a baseball and smiling for a few photos. The ball was the one he shot into right field for a double in the seventh inning against Texas ace Yu Darvish.
Asked on Tuesday afternoon what he is going to do with the keepsake from his Major League debut, he cracked a smile.
"I'm going to send it to my mom in Cuba," Diaz said through team translator Anna Bolton.
Diaz looked as though he belonged in the big leagues during the spring, winning a job on the Opening Day roster with a strong offensive showing (.458 average in 20 Cactus League games). With second baseman Jason Kipnis on the 10-day disabled list with a right shoulder issue and Jose Ramirez filling in at second, Diaz was handed the keys to third base to start the season.
Diaz did not display any rookie nerves during his debut. In the fifth, he made a diving stop to rob Nomar Mazara of a hit, and he also reached on an error (on a grounder to short that had a 108-mph exit velocity). Then there was his opposite-field double, which he followed up by scoring from third on a wild pitch.
"He looked like the same guy that we've seen all spring," manager Terry Francona said. "It looked like he was having fun playing in a game. And he made a nice play at third. You're not going to see pitching like that every night -- I hope we don't -- but he looked just fine."
It might not have looked like it, but Diaz admitted that he had some jitters.
"Yeah, I was really nervous during my first at-bat," he said. "After my first at-bat, I just felt normal."
Diaz said the support system around him has helped. He has fit right in with the team, and he said his teammates have made that happen.
In recent days, Diaz said, Carlos Santana has been a great source of advice.
"It's nice to have a team with so many young guys," Diaz said, "but to also have some experience, because they give you more confidence."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.