RAFU WIRE SERVICES
Cleveland Guardians newcomer Steven Kwan has quickly become the biggest story in baseball after a sensational start in a season-opening series at Kansas City.
The 24-year-old rookie is the first player in major league history to reach base at least three times in each of his first four games. Kwan hit a bases-loaded triple and walked twice Monday in a 10-7 win over the Royals.
Kwan, who made his debut Opening Day, began 9 for 13 at the plate and reached base in 15 of 19 plate appearances. That’s the most times any player has safely reached in his first four games since 1901.
“Pretty cool,” Kwan said in his typical understated manner. “Pretty surreal.”
Kwan has Cleveland’s fifth-round draft pick in 2018. He’s a contact hitter — he swung 26 times in the opening series and got a piece of the ball every time, according to Statcast.
The Bay Area native had the lowest swing-and-miss rate in the minors last year among players with at least 300 plate appearances at 2.6%.
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Former Cal State Fullerton star Kelsie Whitmore has signed a contract with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League, becoming one of the first women to join a league connected to Major League Baseball.
The 23-year-old Whitmore pitched and played in the outfield for the U.S. women’s baseball team from 2014-19. She also played softball at CSU Fullerton.
The Atlantic League teams are not big league affiliates, but the circuit is an MLB partner league.
“The culture and competitiveness of this ballclub just feels right to be a part of,” Whitmore said Friday in a statement. “I’ve been working for an opportunity like this my whole life, and I’m ready to get after it and compete.”
Next up for Whitmore was the FerryHawks’ invitation-only tryout on Saturday afternoon. The team said she would throw and hit in front of coaches Edgardo Alfonzo, Nelson Figueroa and Luis Rodriguez. She was to be with the team for spring training beginning on Monday.
“Kelsie is with us today because of her drive, perseverance, and her fiery passion to outwork any person that we sign,” Staten Island general manager Gary Perone said. “Today Kelsie is paving the way for so many young girls who play baseball across the county.”
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In San Francisco on Tuesday, Alyssa Nakken made major league history as the first female coach on the field in a regular-season game and the Giants pounded the San Diego Padres, 13-2.
The 31-year-old Nakken took over at first base in the third inning after Antoan Richardson got ejected. When she was announced as Richardson’s replacement, Nakken was greeted with a warm ovation from the crowd at Oracle Park. She also received a congratulatory handshake from Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer.
“I think we’re all inspirations doing everything that we do on a day-to-day basis and I think, yes, this carries a little bit more weight because of the visibility, obviously there’s a historical nature to it,” Nakken said. “But again, this is my job.”
San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said Nakken had “prepared for this moment” while working with Richardson and others.
“So it’s not a foreign spot on the field for her. She does so many other things well that aren’t seen,” he said. “So it’s nice to see her kind of be right there in the spotlight and do it on the field.”
Nakken is an assistant coach who works heavily with baserunning and outfield defense. She watches games from an indoor batting cage near the steps to the dugout.
Nakken, her blonde braid hanging out of her protective orange helmet, had previously coached first in spring training and during a July 2020 exhibition game at Oakland against now- Padres manager Bob Melvin when he was with the Athletics.
The former Sacramento State softball star became the first female coach in the big leagues when she was hired for Kapler’s staff in January 2020. She has worked heavily on baserunning and outfield defense.
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The Chicago Cubs’ off-season acquisition of Seiya Suzuki is paying big dividends already with the Japanese star homering in back-to-back at-bats in the team’s 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.
In the fourth regular season game of his major league career, the 27-year-old, who joined the Cubs last month, hit a solo home run off Jose Quintana (0-1) in the fifth inning and another off Anthony Banda in the seventh for the visitors’ only runs at PNC Park.
“I can’t tell if I’m in good form or not but I was able to bring home runs and help the team win so I’m really happy about that,” Suzuki said.