P.J. Conlon might not throw a devastating 100 mph fastball, but he sure has a lot of energy on the hill.
This was apparent Monday night, when the Ireland-born pitcher made his Major League debut and helped get the Mets back in the right direction.
“It’s something you dream about,” Conlon said. “The most nervous I got was when I was just sitting around here waiting, sitting in the clubhouse waiting for time to hit 6:30 for me to go out on the field. That’s when I was most nervous.
“Once I got out there and was stretching, just took in the surroundings. It was cool. It was just so fun. It was a heck of an experience.”
Conlon only pitched 3.2 innings after jamming his thumb, but he brought with him friends and family that were loud and supportive among a small Cincinnati crowd.
He also collected his first strikeout and base hit during the contest. The hit, however, was how he jammed his thumb.
“I didn’t have any feel going out there for the fourth inning,” he said. “I couldn’t really have a feel with my thumb on the bottom of the ball. It felt like I didn’t have a guide on any of my pitches. Going back and looking at it, I almost threw a couple of pitches to the backstop.”
Regardless, it was an evening Conlon will forever look back on fondly.
“Everything about this was awesome,” he said. “It’s something you dream about.”
It was Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco who broke the news to the southpaw that he was getting called up to start against the Reds.
“I was completely surprised,” Conlon said. “Came out of nowhere. Wide awake after that. Up and didn’t know what to do with myself.”
Conlon was born in Belfast. Upon making his debut on Monday, he became the first baseball player from there since 1906, and the first Irish born player to debut since World War II.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I’ve gotten unbelievable support, all these people reaching out to me yesterday and today. It means a lot. You could see [his family] in the stands waving Irish flags. They’re proud of it and I’m proud of it. I have a little Irish flag on my glove. It’s definitely important to me and means a lot.”
Overall, the left-hander allowed three runs on four hits while yielding two walks and striking out one. The bullpen came on after he was relieved in the fourth and finished off the outing.
While it might prove to be his only start with Jacob deGrom set to return when he is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list, he might stick around as a reliever.
Conlon has been a starter his entire professional career, but during Spring Training, the Mets decided to start working him out as a bullpen arm.
His presence in the bullpen could do wonders as he could work as a situational lefty or a long-man depending on how they need him.
But for now, Conlon has his first Major League appearance in his pocket and will build off that in whatever next step he takes.