Teammates trust that Holliday can handle pressure

BOSTON – The reporter approached Ryan Mountcastle’s locker yesterday, asked if he had a minute and explained that only one topic could be covered. The important one. You know it.

Mountcastle turned around, smiled and said, “Jackson Holliday.”

Of course. It wasn’t the best lobster rolls in New England.

Players learned about Holliday’s promotion late Tuesday night. They, too, have sources scattered throughout baseball.

“Somebody sent it to me over a text,” Mountcastle said. “Super excited for him and super excited for the team and fans to have him up. Hopefully, he does well. Super excited to have him here.”

“I found out when I got a text from somebody in Triple-A that said, ‘Hey, Jackson’s coming up.’ And I said, ‘All right, let’s go,’” reliever Danny Coulombe recalled.

“Unbelievably talented. I’m just excited to see what he can do. It’s a special day for him. I’m just excited to see him. He’s put the work in and he’s a special player, so I’m excited to see what happens.”

Holliday went 0-for-4 with an RBI grounder and struck out twice. A Boston reporter joked that everything was good with the Orioles until they called up the kid. Meanwhile, his colleagues wondered how the Orioles could have so many shortstops and the team they cover had none.

Gunnar Henderson owns the position, but Holliday gladly will shift to second base if it gets him to the majors for good.

“He’s got all the talent in the world,” Mountcastle said. “To be that age and already be ready for the big leagues is unbelievable. He’s going to be a great addition to the team.”

Holliday tore up Triple-A pitching but experienced a typical debut. Prospects can start slowly. We’ve seen it.

There’s time for Holliday to be an exception. He’s one game into his major league career.

“He’s going to put the bat on the ball,” said Henderson, who attracted a group of reporters to his locker as soon as the clubhouse opened to the media. “He’s got really elite bat-on-ball skills and getting on base a lot. I feel like that’s what he’s done throughout his whole career and looking forward to doing that up here and seeing what he can do.”

Holliday loved everything about last night except for the shallow fly ball he couldn’t catch over his shoulder, leading to Boston’s first run, and the four hitless at-bats. The hype machine is cranking again but expectations need to be controlled. They need to be reasonable, especially at his age.

“We’ve all, especially early in our careers, gone through little skids here and there, and it’s all a learning curve,” Mountcastle said. “Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to him, but he can get through any type of that stuff. He’s going to be great for a long time. Great player, great kid.”

Coulombe was reflecting and amused.

“I was just talking to somebody earlier about where I was when I was 20,” he said. “I was in college. Like, no way was I ready to play in the big leagues.

“There needs to be expectations that, even if he comes out and struggles a little bit, that’s OK. He’s 20. No matter what, he’s going to be an amazing player, so I’m excited to see what happens.”

Cole Irvin might not remember much about last night’s start many years down the road. He’ll probably forget about the shake to changeup that he regretted on the two-run single that followed. But he’s likely to remember that he was on the mound for Holliday’s debut.

“Yeah. I mean, shoot, anyone’s first game is a big deal, right?” Irvin said.

“I’m excited for him, I’m glad he’s here and he’s going to be good for us. He’s certainly been swinging the bat well in Triple-A. We’re excited to have him here. Of course. He’s a great player.”

The organization is littered with them. The established and the prospects on the farm who can’t be kept back much longer.

“It’s been great,” said Matt Holliday, who sat next to the Orioles’ dugout with his family. “I think the proof is in the pudding with the product they’re putting on the field and the young players that are developing, and the group that they have in Triple-A and in Double-A and High-A. It’s been impressive what they’ve been able to do and stockpiling really talented players that are developing and getting better. They have a ton of assets. So, they’re in a really good spot.”

* Jackson wore the MLB debut patch on his jersey sleeve that was created last year.

Rookie players making their debuts are given the memorabilia patch created for Topps trading cards. It was removed after last night’s game, authenticated included in a rookie debut patch autograph card that’s randomly inserted into Topps packs later this year.

Holliday signed the special one-of-one trading card after the game.

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