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Top prospect James Wood singles in his first major league at-bat for the Nationals against the Mets

 The Associated Press  |    Jul 1st, 2024 9:41am EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prized prospect James Wood made his major league debut Monday night for the Washington Nationals and singled in his first plate appearance against the New York Mets.

The 21-year-old outfielder finished 1 for 4 with a walk as Washington lost 9-7 in 10 innings. Afterward, he was asked for one word to describe his first game.

“Unique,” he said. “It’s just like the first time doing something, something you’ve never done before, playing in front of a crowd like that and obviously in the major leagues.”

The 6-foot-7 Wood, from nearby Olney, Maryland, was hitting .353 at Triple-A Rochester before getting called up Monday. He was acquired in the August 2022 blockbuster trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego.

Wood played left field and batted sixth in his debut. He wore No. 50.

“It’s unreal,” he said before the game. “Just being able to play for the team I grew up around and watching, it’s a blessing.”

Wood is the third-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. The 234-pound slugger had 10 home runs, 37 RBIs and a 1.058 OPS in the minors.

“He’s done really well at Triple-A,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “I talked to him a little bit today about his routine, stick with his routine and really just be where your feet are and have fun.”

Wood estimated he’d have “more than 50” friends and family members in attendance for his debut.

“It’s cool just being back home and having my family here and trying to soak it all in,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s still baseball, so just trying to look at it that way.”

Wood joined left-hander MacKenzie Gore and shortstop CJ Abrams in a lineup featuring three players who came to the Nationals in the Soto trade.

Washington began the day just four games out of the final NL wild-card spot despite ranking 11th in the league in batting average (.235), 14th in home runs (68) and 12th in runs (341).

“We felt like he could give us a little boost on offense,” Martinez said. “We’re struggling scoring some runs and think his bat will definitely help us. But we felt like he was ready. He checked all the boxes down there.”

Wood’s contract was selected from Rochester. In a corresponding roster move, outfielder Eddie Rosario was designated for assignment.

After receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 26,719 in the bottom of the second inning, Wood fell behind 1-2, worked the count full and then lined an opposite-field single into left-center against Mets starter David Peterson.

“I was just kind of looking for a fastball,” Wood said. “His fastball runs, it’s got a run and sink on it. I was trying to push it up and away, especially after I swung through the one down. And then I was just able to get one.”

Wood struck out in the fourth, grounded out in the seventh, reached on a two-base throwing error by reliever Jake Diekman in the ninth, and walked in the 10th.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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The Associated Press