By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Slade Cecconi’s first career strikeout might go down as one of the most unique in the majors.
The ball wound up stuck high in catcher Jose Herrera’s inner thigh.
Just more than a month past his 24th birthday, the Arizona right-hander threw a 3-2 fastball to Giants leadoff man LaMonte Wade Jr. in the first inning of the Diamondbacks’ 4-2 loss to San Francisco on Wednesday night.
The ball grazed off the knob end of Wade’s bat and Herrera somehow pinned the ball in his leg without letting it hit the ground.
“I basically threw one right at him and Jose did a great job putting his cup on today. And we got the strikeout,” Cecconi said.
Initially ruled a hit by pitch, the D-backs challenged the call and it was overturned to a strikeout.
“I thought I hit him and I was just like, ‘All right next guy,’” Cecconi said. “And then I look over and they’re reviewing and they showed the video and it went knob to groin area to catch to out. It was like, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s one way to get the first one.’”
The Diamondbacks had a good laugh about it in their dugout.
“It’s going to be talked about for a long time,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “You can’t dream up how you get your first career strikeout. Look, he one day will be able to tell a great story about my first one and nobody will believe it, you’ll have to go to the tape for proof of that. But we had a good laugh about it in the dugout. But what he did was, he settled in after that and made pitches and did a really good job.”
It will be memorable for Herrera, too — also a first in his catching career. His groin area was sore afterward.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like that for his first strikeout, but it was fun that we got it for him. And I held the ball long enough and it was a good experience,” he said. “No hands. Tried to hold it with my pants as long as I could. Even to me, I think it was the first time in my career that something like that happened and I kept holding the ball. It was pretty special, that moment.”
Giants manager Gabe Kapler understood the call.
“If he catches the ball it’s an out, if he traps it against his chest, anywhere,” Kapler said. “If the ball doesn’t hit the ground it’s an out. That’s my understanding.”
Cecconi allowed two runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings in his debut. He didn’t allow a hit in his major league debut until Flores doubled sharply to left with one out in the fourth.
Cecconi had his contract selected from Triple-A Reno before the game and became the second of five players from the D-backs’ 2020 draft to debut this year along with Thursday starter Brandon Pfaadt.
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