Rafu Staff and Wire Service Reports
El Segundo High and USC grad Lars Nootbaar had a night he’ll never forget on Tuesday, when he made his major league debut for the St. Louis Cardinals, in a game against the Tigers in Detroit.
Nootbaar, 23, hit a sacrifice fly to left field in his second at-bat, picking up his first big league RBI.
“This is something I’ll remember forever; obviously, I wish it had come in a win,” he said after the Cardinals’ 8-4 loss to the Tigers.
The left-hand-hitting outfielder was called up for Tuesday’s game after St. Louis sent Lane Thomas and his .104 batting average to AAA Memphis. To make room on the 40- man roster for Nootbaar, left-handed pitcher Bernardo Flores, Jr. was designated for assignment.
In 29 games at Memphis this season, Nootbaar was hitting .329 with five home runs and 17 RBI. He played all three outfield positions in AAA this season without an error, and spent over two weeks on the injured list with a hand injury in early June.
Wearing number 68, the 6’3”, 210-pounder got the start in left field Tuesday in Detroit. He went 0-for-3 in his debut with the sac fly.
Nootbaar was disappointed that his parents, Charlie and Kumi, missed the momentous occasion, as they were on their way home from a 30th wedding anniversary vacation overseas.
“They’re flying in tonight, so hopefully tomorrow when they first get to see me, we can get a win and kind of do it the way we want to,” he said after the game. His brother and sister, however, were able to catch a last-minute flight to Detroit to see Nootbaar break into the bigs.
Charlie, a graduate of Blair High in Pasadena, first met Kumi while they were students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. They later re-connected in her hometown in Japan and have been together ever since.
“It’s not every day you can say your son plays in the big leagues. Dreams can indeed come true,” the proud father posted Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday afternoon, Nootbaar collected his first hit in the majors, a triple in the game at Detroit.
The first member of the Cardinals’ 2018 MLB Draft class to make it the majors, Nootbaar was an eighth-round selection out of USC by St. Louis.
With the minors idled by the pandemic for nearly all of 2020, Nootbaar played almost no baseball, instead working an early-morning job at an aircraft maintenance yard for most of the year.
“My parents basically told me I had better get a job,” he told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Fast-forward a year, and the former football and baseball star at El Segundo High has found himself arrived in baseball’s promised land.
“A year ago, I was lifting stuff and drilling holes, and now I’m in Detroit playing in the big leagues. It’s pretty remarkable,” he said.
Elsewhere in baseball, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani was named Player of the Week for the American League on Monday, claiming the Major League Baseball award for the third time in his career.
Ohtani earned the honor for the June 14-20 period, hitting .296 with six home runs and nine RBIs in seven games. He also chalked up a win on the mound, limiting the Detroit Tigers to one run in six innings in the Angels’ 7-5 victory last week.