Cole Tucker ‘stoked’ for chance to make debut with Pirates
Cole Tucker is an admittedly excitable person, and his emotions were on overdrive Saturday afternoon as he prepared to make his major-league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 22-year-old shortstop was running on little sleep when he arrived at PNC Park a few hours before the Pirates played the San Francisco Giants.
He pulled on uniform No. 3 and headed out to take ground balls with his teammates, taking time out to brush his teeth for the first time all day.
That tends to happen when you are informed in the early hours of the morning that you are getting your first major-league callup and have a few hours until you catch the first flight out for Pittsburgh.
“I’m just cheesing now,” Tucker said before batting practice. “I just took ground balls on a big-league field, and I’m in the lineup tonight against the San Francisco Giants. If I could run back and tell second-grade Cole Tucker what was happening now, he would freak out.”
Adult Cole Tucker was doing a fine job in his younger self’s absence. As he discussed getting the midnight phone call from Triple-A Indianapolis manager Brian Esposito, Tucker began jumping up and down to imitate how he bounced on his bed when he received the news.
“I’m so stoked,” he said. “I’m so thrilled to be here.”
The Pirates didn’t plan to have Tucker make his arrival in Pittsburgh this soon. He was in his first month at Triple-A after batting .259 in his first full season at Double-A Altoona in 2018.
Asked if he was ready for his debut, Tucker laughed.
“I do,” he said. “If I don’t, I got like three hours to figure it out.”
Tucker’s stay with the Pirates could be lengthy considering that starter Erik Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day injured list Saturday with a left clavicle fracture after being involved in a collision with center fielder Starling Marte on Friday night that forced both players out of the game.
Tucker batted .333 with three homers, five steals and seven RBI at Indianapolis.
“I feel like i’m ready to add value to this team, go out and compete and be good everyday shortstop and do whatever I’m asked of,” Tucker said. “Now that I’m here, I don’t have to try to reinvent myself or do anything out of the ordinary. I just need to go out and be Cole Tucker, and I think that’s a good big-league player.
“I can’t wait to go out and show that.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .