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Zoilo Almonte makes Major League debut in Yankees' 6-0 loss to Dodgers

06/19/2013 9:36 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Zoilo Almonte sees Spring Training action earlier this year.(AP)
Called up by the Yankees on Tuesday, outfielder Zoilo Almonte made his Major League debut in the nightcap of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Dodgers, but not exactly in a role either he or manager Joe Girardi may have envisioned.

Prior to the games, Girardi said that Almonte would likely get a start in Game 2 - as well as this weekend against against one of the right-handed starters in the upcoming four-game set against Tampa Bay - but the new addition was on the bench when the lineup was released.

Instead, with the Yankees down 6-0 in the ninth inning, Almonte was sent up to pinch-hit for Austin Romine, grounding out to third to officially become the 41st different player used by the Yankees in just 71 games.

It was a quick and fruitless appearance in the box score, but a lifelong memory for the young Dominican.

"Something came over me (when I walked up to the plate)," Almonte said through an interpreter after the game. "It wasn't exactly how I expected it to be because I made an out, but I'm still very, very happy."

Even though Almonte was hitting .297 with six homers at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre - and .303 with all six of those homers against right-handed pitching - many may have found it odd that he was the one called up when Mark Teixeira was placed on the disabled list, and Girardi admitted that move was partially made out of roster necessity.

"We've got to be a little creative during this stretch; most of the guys in Triple-A that were on the 40-man roster were hurt." Girardi said, referencing the fact that as of Tuesday, Almonte and Double-A outfielder Ramon Flores were the only active position players on the 40-man roster.

Almonte himself almost didn't believe it, and admitted that he wasn't focused on it despite being one of the top offensive threats for the RailRiders all season.

"I was doing really well, but I never focused on getting called up," Almonte said. "I was just working very hard and focusing on things going well for me and letting them have to make the decision."

The thought of making their debut anywhere, let alone for the Yankees in Yankee Stadium against another storied franchise in the Dodgers, might get some a little nervous, but Almonte said his transition to the Majors was helped immensely by the fact that there are four other 2013 RailRiders and several others that he knows currently on the Yankees roster.

"I almost feel like I'm in Scranton because there's so few people that I don't know in this clubhouse," he said.

And, while Almonte may have a .000 batting average after his first game, Girardi doesn't expect that to last too long.

"We really believe this kid is going to hit, and at times we really saw it in Spring Training," Girardi said. "He struggled a little bit too, and maybe it was the excitement of trying to make the team, but he has seemed to really swing the bat pretty well down there, especially left-handed."

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