Hacker's debut with Bucs fulfills dream
Righty allowed two runs but was happy to throw strikes
PITTSBURGH -- When Eric Hacker was summoned from the Pirates' bullpen to pitch the eighth inning of Tuesday's game, he became the 47th different player used by Pittsburgh this season. The only number that was significant to Hacker, though, was that this was No. 1.
It may not have been a flawless appearance, but for Hacker, it was his first. And with it, he became the eighth different player (fourth pitcher) to make his Major League debut with the Pirates this year.
"Some guys reminded me that that only happens once in your career, so to take a moment and try to take it in," Hacker said. "When I got out there, I kind of took a moment and took it in, and just kind of then forgot about it and focused on making the pitch.
"It was something you dream about since you're a little kid. For that to come true is nice."
With his parents and wife watching the game back home in Texas, Hacker allowed three hits and two runs in his inning of work. The results weren't particularly impressive, but it is worth noting that Hacker had a two-week layoff before taking the mound on Tuesday.
"It is a little tough," Hacker said of the break between outings. "You just have to stay on top of your mechanics. I went back and looked at some tape, and there might have been a few things that were a little out of whack, but overall it was OK. I was just happy I was throwing strikes and letting them put the ball in play. You have to start somewhere."
The Pirates were already behind when Hacker entered, and eventually lost, 10-4.
"You always wish the circumstances were better," manager John Russell said. "When you come in and win the game, you can be a little more excited about it. But it's an opportunity. I just wish the circumstances were a little bit different."
Hacker, who was called up to the Majors on Sept. 8, could be used in the two remaining games where the Pirates are expected to piggyback relievers to get through without a traditional starter. The fact that Hacker is still stretched out from starting in Triple-A this season would allow him to pitch multiple innings in such a role. He will otherwise remain just another option in an overflowing bullpen.
The Pirates continue to list him as an option, albeit a long-shot option, to compete for a rotation spot next year. Most likely, Hacker will begin the 2010 season in Triple-A, but with this taste of big-league experience under his belt.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.