PITTSBURGH -- By the time you read this, Matt Hague's Major League debut may be over. So the 26-year-old strongman may be coming to.Hague made his bow Saturday night in a fishbowl: Playing first, batting No. 5 in the starting lineup, facing left-hander Cliff Lee. "That's why they call it the big leagues," manager Clint Hurdle said prior to the game, smiling over stiff challenge. "There'll be a lot of emotion out there for Matt. At the end of the day, when the game's over, he'll be able to catch his breath. "I can remember mine [big league debut]. You prepare for this for such a long time, then it's on. For me, it was somewhat of a blur." It was also a blast: On the second at-bat of his Major League debut on Sept. 18, 1977, for the Royals, Hurdle smacked a two-run homer in the fifth to break up a scoreless game with Seattle. Hurdle, incidentally, was also in the significant five-hole in the Kansas City lineup. Hague and Lee had met twice in Spring Training, with the lefty retiring the rookie both times. A very small sample size, but having already faced the pitcher against whom he makes his debut had to relax Hague a little bit.
Pirates lineup adjusted for lefty opponent
PITTSBURGH -- One game in, the Pirates' lineup got quite a makeover on Saturday night. Only two players were in the same slot as they had been for Thursday's opener: No. 3 Andrew McCutchen and No. 8 Clint Barmes.The shakeup wasn't in response to having been two-hit on Opening Day. The new look tipped off what may be manager Clint Hurdle's regular alignment against left-handed starters, with Cliff Lee following Roy Halladay in the Phillies' rotation. In their Pirates debuts, right-handed hitters Casey McGehee and Matt Hague (in also his first big league game) comprised the heart of the order. McGehee replaced Pedro Alvarez at third, and Hague stepped in for another left-handed hitter, first baseman Garrett Jones. Meanwhile, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata -- who got the only two hits against Halladay -- flip-flopped at the top, with Tabata taking over as the leadoff man. "Just a different look," said Hurdle, who often switched the two men atop his Spring Training lineups. "They've both led off and done well. If someone's going to get an extra at-bat against Lee, I want Tabby to have it."
Josh Harrison entered Saturday's game to play third base as part of a double-switch in the top of the eighth and doubled in the bottom of the inning -- the Pirates' first extra-base hit of the season.
When Charlie Morton makes his rehab start on Monday for Indianapolis in Columbus -- possibly his final tuneup prior to joining the Bucs for a weekend start in San Francisco -- he won't be dealing with a restrictive pitch limit. The righty can go around 100.
The last word: "Nothing builds confidence like success -- especially when you're young." -- Clint Hurdle, addressing James McDonald's strong Spring Training wrapup rebound in his final preseason start in Philadelphia.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.