Former N.C. State first baseman Aaron Bates, whom we wrote about here not too long ago, was called up to the Boston Red Sox last week.
He struggled to hit the ball in his first couple of games last week, but then broke through with his first major league hit on Saturday. Then Sunday, just before the All-Star break, he broke through, going 3-for-4 with a run, a pair of doubles and an RBI.
Balls and Strikes reached Bates, who said a few weeks ago that he stopped worrying about being called up to the majors. Likewise, he said he didn’t dwell on what he had done during Sunday’s game.
“I was thinking about the next play or the next pitch,” said Bates. “[Pitcher Josh] Beckett was throwing so well.”
When did it all dawn on him?
“It was after the game, when I was with my family,” said Bates. “I was happy to contribute to a win. That was my biggest goal.”
Bates has had lots of friends and family visit and soak up the experience with him in Beantown.
N.C. State coach Elliott Avent dropped everything last Monday when Bates’ mother called him, telling Avent that Bates would likely play that night.
“She was crying, and I was like, I have to go now,” said Avent, who quickly booked a flight to Boston and was there by the third inning. Avent didn’t miss Bates’ first at-bat though.
With the game on the radio, the taxicab driver escorting him from the airport to Fenway Park pulled over to a sports bar. Then they proceeded to Fenway.
“Even though he struck out twice and went 0-for-3 in each of his first two games, he was getting good at-bats,” said Avent.
Bates had the same attitude, and said he never let the results get to him.
“You just have to put it in perspective,” said Bates. “I was working the count, and seeing some pitches.”
He said he hasn’t been caught by surprise in the experience. The players are really good, and he expected that.
He keeps his cool, playing under the microscope of Fenway by taking the approach that he’s just playing with his friends. He doesn’t look at the stands.
“You don’t want to be overwhelmed by the situation,” said Bates.