Dovydas Neverauskas made history while Europe slept last night. The RHP became the first Lithuanian player in the history of the MLB when he made his major league debut in relief.
He pitched in place of Adam Frazier, who is on the 10-day DL. Dovydas got the call in Indianapolis so late in the afternoon that he arrived in the middle of the 6th inning after hopping a plane for the 30 minute commute. According to the RHP the call came at 6pm. He packed, headed out and was in the pen by 9pm. By the 8th Neverauskas was suited up and on the mound against the World Series champions.
Pitching 2.0 innings of relief Neverauskas recorded his first major league strikeout against the opposing pitcher Justin Grimms. He gave up 2 hits and an earned run closing the day with a 4.50 ERA. Considering the game was a 14-3 blowout in favor of the Cubs, it is important to note that Neverauskas, who pitched the second most number of innings for the Pirates, also posted the lowest ERA of the day for their bench.
Speaking of his experience after the game Dovydas said that to settle his nerves he had to, “Being confident. Trust what I’ve been doing. Keep throwing strikes. Let them hit, don’t walk people. Just be aggressive going the plate.”
Signed by the Pirates in 2009 and he joined their minor league spring training in 2010. Neverauskas, who throws between 90-97 MPH with a curveball and changeup to accompany his fastball, was on the World team in the MLB Futures Game in 2016 and spent spring in training camp in FL before being assigned to AAA Indianapolis on the 17th of March. Just like Kepler, Neverauskas comes from an athletic family. His mother was a professional basketball player while his dad helped bring baseball to Lithuania and has served as the head coach of several U-national teams.
Asked about the affect his debut might have back at home Neverauskas said, “It’s a better opportunity to see that baseball can be played in Lithuania and somebody can follow in my footsteps.”