James Outman in Triple-A Oklahoma City inherited Marshall Kasowski last season and the rock mascot who traveled with him to Phoenix this spring followed the Dodgers outfielder to Chavez Ravine this week, even though which has not taken up permanent residence in Outman’s dressing room. .
“It was passed down to me with the idea that it would bring good fortune,” Outman said with a toothy grin drawn on a fist-sized gray stone as a face in black magic marker. “We had a mascot for the pitchers, and they started hitting too many times.
“We thought it would be good for the hitters, so they gave it to me. But I think the hope was that someday, I would pass ‘Rocko’ on to the next person.”
The next person will have to wait. Outman isn’t about to drop a rock after crushing a two-run homer in the sixth inning of his first start at Dodger Stadium before an opposite-field shot to left-center sealed an 8-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. 52,075 sold out crowd Thursday night.
The lefty Outman also walked and scored on Will Smith’s two-run single in the third inning to tie the game and singled to right field, took second on a Jake McCarthy bobble and scored on Smith’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“I don’t think any moment will be too big for him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Outman, who earned a platoon role by hitting a team-leading .283 (15 for 53) with eight extra-base hits. , including three homers, and 11 RBI in 23 spring games.
“It’s like his heartbeat, his head. He just has a good, calm demeanor. There is a quiet confidence there. So hitting a homer tonight was no surprise.”
Outman, 25, showed little emotion when Roberts informed him after Tuesday night’s Freeway Series exhibition finale against the Angles that he would start in center field Thursday night.
“I think he put a straight face on me,” Roberts said. “He winked at me while chewing his gum. And that was it. It was fine. I liked that. … He does a good job of getting emotions through the gum he’s always chewing.”
James Outman, right, celebrates with Miguel Vargas after hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)
Two nights later, as he prepared for the start of the first day of the premiere, Outman’s stomach was churning.
“Yeah, definitely at first,” Outman said, when asked if he was nervous. “I couldn’t sit still when they were doing (the pre-game presentations). But, you know, I fixed them a bit after the game started.’
His first plate appearance helped. Outman trailed Arizona’s Zac Gallen by two in the strikeout count, but took the next four pitches for balls, leaving an 86-mph changeup for a walk.
Outman took third on Miguel Rojas’ ground-rule double to right field and scored when Smith laced a two-out, two-out single into right field to make it 2-2.
“I think it definitely calmed me down, for sure,” Outman said of the ride. “You know, getting on base, running and scoring. And in that situation, we tied the game, so at that moment, it felt like we were in a ball game.”
Outman struck out Gallen on an 88-mph fastball in the fourth, and the Dodgers scored three runs on RBI singles by Smith, JD Martinez and David Peralta in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead.
Outman followed up rookie Miguel Vargas’ leadoff walk in the sixth, lining a 94-mph fastball from reliever Cole Sulser into left-center, 390 yards over the wall for his second home run – he hit it once in his last four-game cameo with the Dodgers. in the summer — and a score of 7-2.
He also got an insurance run in the eighth after leading off with a single to right, took second on an error and scored on Smith’s sacrifice fly, giving the Dodgers catcher four RBIs in the game.
As Outman prepared for Thursday night’s game, he heard a familiar refrain from veterans like first baseman Freddie Freeman and right fielder Mookie Betts.
“The guys said you only get one opening day start, so enjoy it,” Outman said. “Take it all in.”
Outman did just that when he rounded the bases in his first home run of the regular season at Dodger Stadium.
“It was cool,” Outman said. “The fans are incredible. It was awesome. It was a dream come true.”