Nick Buss made his major-league debut and collected his first hit Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
Sunday, he was standing 90 feet away from home plate, representing the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning in a game against the San Francisco Giants.
“That was super exciting,” he said. “I was just hoping we could get that next knock, sneak one out there.”
Buss was not included in the Dodgers’ first group of September call-ups. Fact is, he probably shouldn’t be here.
But injuries to the Dodgers’ three starting outfielders (Yasiel Puig‘s left hip is stiff, Andre Ethier‘s left ankle is sore and Carl Crawford‘s back is also stiff) created an opening. Buss and outfielder Alex Castellanos, who homered Saturday, were both summoned from the Dodgers’ instructional camp in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday.
Buss was in the starting lineup Sunday for the first time as a major leaguer. He batted eighth, played right field and finished 1 for 4 with a ninth-inning single off Romo.
The former USC standout played all three outfield positions at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he batted .303 with 17 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 2013.
“I’m very comfortable” in right field, Buss said. “It’s just getting used to being up here, playing in front of a bunch of fans. It’s been fun so far.”
Amidst the Dodgers’ star-studded lineup and veteran-studded bench, Buss is a rare exception.
An eighth-round pick in the 2008 draft, Buss wasn’t on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster until Saturday. He wasn’t even invited to their major league spring training camp. Buss made a couple spring training cameos as an in-case-of-emergency reinforcement, but for the most part this whole major-league thing is a crash course.
“These first two days have been a bit of a whirlwind,” he said. “I’m just psyched I was able to get up here this year.”
Now, the 26-year-old rookie could see extended time in the outfield. The injuries to Puig, Ethier and Crawford aren’t considered serious, and Matt Kemp could return as early as tomorrow, but manager Don Mattingly is likely to proceed cautiously with all four players.
The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West is four, and they can get there by winning two of three beginning Monday in Arizona.
“I didn’t realize that I’d have the opportunity to start like this and I don’t think the team knew that either,” Buss said. “Just some injuries have occurred and that’s allowed me to get in there.
“You’ve kind of got to be ready for anything. I’m psyched to be up here. It’s been fine so far. Unfortunately we haven’t won these last two games, but I’m excited to be up here.