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Slade Cecconi gets odd 1st strikeout after review

Jul 01, 2023

Steve Gilbert

SAN FRANCISCO -- A pitcher always remembers his first Major League strikeout, but the way D-backs right-hander Slade Cecconi got his in Wednesday night's 4-2 loss to the Giants made it even more memorable.

Cecconi, who had his contract selected by the D-backs in order to start the game, went to a 3-2 count to Giants leadoff hitter LaMonte Wade Jr. before uncorking a 95 mph fastball that ran in on Wade and appeared to hit him.

Home-plate umpire Gabe Morales, in fact, ruled it a hit-by-pitch and Wade started to head down to first base.

The D-backs challenged the call, however, and replay showed that not only did the ball not hit Wade, but it hit the knob of his bat and ricocheted into the stomach/groin area of catcher Jose Herrera.

Herrera somehow managed to trap the ball against his body and the play was overturned, going from a hit-by-pitch to a foul tip strikeout.

“It wasn't supposed to be like that for his first strikeout,” Herrera said with a laugh. “It was good that we got it for him. I held the ball long enough. I tried to hold it with my pants as long as I could. It was the first time in my career that something like that happened and I kept holding the ball. It was pretty special.”

Herrera was asked how he was doing given where the ball landed.

“It feels a little sore, but hopefully it will feel better,” Herrera said.

For Cecconi it was a strange way to open his big league career.

“It was 3-2 and I basically threw it right at him,” Cecconi said. “Jose did a great job putting his cup on today. Got the strikeout.”

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has seen a lot of baseball in his days as a player, coach and manager, but something like that was a new one for him, too.

“It's going to be talked about for a long time,” Lovullo said. “You can't dream up how you get your first career strikeout. Look, one day he’ll 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. We had a good laugh about it, though, in the dugout, but what he did was he settled in after that, made pitches and did a really good job.”

Cecconi allowed two runs on four hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings and ended up with no decision. He tallied one more K in his debut effort -- a conventional swinging strikeout of Wilmer Flores for the second out of the first.

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment my whole life,” Cecconi said. “Glad to be here and now it's time to really help this team get some wins. I don't know if anything could have prepared me for the first jog out there but settled in and tried to take some deep breaths and just be me out there.”