Moment #13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB Debut
May 7, 2007
As this countdown slowly gets closer to the best moment from the 2007 Trenton Thunder season, it gets more and more difficult to choose what moment goes where. Initially, this was going to just be a countdown of the ten best moments, but it became obvious in narrowing them down that there were just too many good things to happen in both Thunder past and present to pick just ten.
With that said, this was the most difficult selection yet. I felt like this couldn’t be lower, and actually had the potential to be a little higher than it was.
I dare you to find anyone who thought Matt DeSalvo would ever throw a pitch for the New York Yankees after his 2006 season. For as good as he was the previous season, he was just as awful in 2006. He started out the year in Triple-A Columbus, and lasted two months before getting sent down. Why was he sent down? Try a 1-6 record with a 7.68 ERA.
It was assumed he would be able to straighten himself out while in Trenton, but that simply wasn’t the case. While he managed to put together a winning record (5-4), his ERA of nearly six (5.77) told the real tale of his performance.
Once the next man in line to join the New York Yankees starting rotation, that goal couldn’t have seemed any further away entering 2007. But, the personal problems that plagued him the previous season were gone, and he got back on track in Triple-A Scranton.
“Last year (2006) when we broke Spring Training, everybody knows that he was the next guy on the list to come up,” said Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
“He had a great spring, but he couldn’t follow up and he had a tough year.”
With injuries mounting in New York, DeSalvo finally got his opportunity, and would make his Major League debut against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on May 7th, 2007.
Not only was it my first time having seen him since his tumultous 2006 campaign, it was also my first time covering the New York Yankees. Turns out, I was a little more nervous than he was.
DeSalvo turned in a remarkable performance, allowing only three hits over seven innings of work. He wouldn’t factor into the decision due to a blown call at second base late in the game, but the fact that he was even there at all came as somewhat of a surprise, even to him.
“Coming into this season, I didn’t think I’d be standing here in this locker room,” he said.
“But those questions, those doubts, they’re out of my mind now. It doesn’t matter.”
DeSalvo the went into further detail about his trials and tribulations from the previous year.
“Last year was a building block for me,” he said after the game.
“When you do throw a game like this, you have to remember what you went through last year to get to a point like this and keep building on it. If I forget about last year, it’ll take away my building blocks and eventually I’ll crumble.”
I talked to Derek Jeter about DeSalvo before the game, and he told me that he wasn’t very familiar with DeSalvo and that he didn’t know what to expect. Suffice it to say, he had a much better impression after the game.
“He did an outstanding job,” Jeter said. “You couldn’t ask for him to do anything else. He pitched well, he threw strikes, he worked quick. You couldn’t ask for anything more than he did.”
DeSalvo would get a few more chances with the Yankees, and picked up his first big league win six days later against the same Seattle Mariners. But he could never quite replicate the success of his first start, and has since signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves.
Recapping the top 20 so far…
#13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB debut
#14 – Phil Hughes rehab appearance
#15 – Tyler Clippard’s MLB debut
#16 – Brett Smith’s no-hitter
#17 – Chase Wright’s MLB debut
#18 – Chase Wright’s opening night start
#19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
#20 – Jeff Karstens rehab appearance
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com