Los Angeles Times

In the blink of an eye, Outman ahead on arrival

He homers in first at-bat, knocks in three runs as Dodgers finish July with 21 victories.

- By Jack Harris


DENVER — The Dodgers still have a couple of days to try to win the Juan Soto sweepstake­s.

In the meantime, however, they are already benefiting from the addition of another left-handed hitting right fielder.

In a mesmerizin­g major league debut Sunday, rookie James Outman had three hits and three RBIs, including a home run in his first atbat, to help the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-3 at Coors Field.

The victory gave the Dodgers (68-33) a series win in Denver this weekend, and an MLB-best 21-5 mark in July — matching the most wins the club has ever had in the month and the fourthhigh­est July winning percentage (.808) by any major league team since 1900.

On Sunday, Outman left his own mark on team history.

The 25-year-old became the first Dodger with three or more hits in his MLB debut since Mike Piazza in 1992, the only player in the club’s Los Angeles history with three hits and three RBIs in his first career game, and the first debutant of any MLB team to have three hits, three RBIs and a home run since the Texas Rangers’ Joey Gallo in 2015.

As Outman stood in front of his locker afterward, a sheepish grin crossed his face when asked if he ever could have imagined so much from his first big league outing.

“Obviously, I dreamed of it, playing Wiffle Ball in the backyard and stuff like

that,” he said.

But ...

“I never really thought that it was gonna be something that was gonna happen,” he said with a laugh, adding: “I’m still riding high, that’s for sure.”

Amid several weeks of trade rumors linking the Dodgers to potential pursuits of superstars such as Soto, Shohei Ohtani and others around the majors leading up to Tuesday’s trade deadline, Outman’s call-up this weekend came somewhat out of the blue.

A former seventh-round pick in 2018 ranked as the club’s No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the outfielder began this season in double A, seemingly behind several other young hitters in the organizati­on’s talented farm system.

But after hitting 16 home runs with the club’s affiliate in Tulsa, he was promoted to triple-A Oklahoma City a month ago.

In 22 games there, the Redwood City native was batting just .225. Yet, when outfielder Zach McKinstry was dealt to the Chicago Cubs this weekend for reliever Chris Martin, Outman was called up as the only healthy outfielder left on the 40-man roster.

“He’s a guy that we’ve had in our camps the last couple years,” manager

Dave Roberts said. “We were hoping he would perform enough to warrant an opportunit­y to come up this year.”

Outman got the news late Friday night and landed in Denver on Saturday afternoon, met there by eight family members, including his parents and fiancée.

When he talked with reporters for the first time Saturday, he credited his sudden rise to a “total rebuild” he made with his swing over the last three seasons.

“I came into pro ball swinging the bat kind of like a caveman — really stiff, not much there,” he said. “Tried to loosen it up, get some

more length through the strike zone and it’s paid off.”

On Sunday, the new motion was on full display from the start.

During his first at-bat in the third inning, Outman unloaded on a center-cut sinker from Rockies starter Germán Márquez, sending a two-run home run into the rightfield bullpens to become the eighth player in franchise history to go deep in his first career at-bat.

“To be honest, I don’t remember like 30 minutes after I hit that,” said Outman, who was mobbed by his teammates in the dugout — including getting splashed in the face with water by Justin Turner —

while reliever Alex Vesia ecstatical­ly retrieved the ball.

“I’m gonna put it up in my childhood room next to all my other baseball stuff,” Outman added, with the ball already sitting in a display case in the clubhouse. “I got like a shelf of all my Little League home runs and stuff like that. That might top them all.”

After striking out in the fourth inning — which Outman said actually calmed him down after his early adrenaline rush — he hit a leadoff single in the seventh and later came around to score on a Freddie Freeman double.

In the eighth, Outman lined an

RBI double to right, helping the Dodgers pull away on a day Tony Gonsolin gave up three runs in five innings, Cody Bellinger hit a goahead two-run double in the fourth, and every member of the lineup reached base at least once.

“What a debut,” Roberts said. “Really fun to watch. You could just see his joy.”

It’s unclear how long Outman’s first MLB stint might last.

Turner (midsection discomfort) probably won’t play again until at least Thursday but still isn’t going on the injured list.

Chris Taylor (foot fracture) is scheduled to begin a rehabilita­tion assignment with Oklahoma City this week that will last at least seven days.

 ?? David Zalubowski Associated Press ?? JAMES OUTMAN is all smiles after homering in his first major league at-bat as he receives congratula­tions from Cody Bellinger. Outman was three for four and knocked in three runs overall.
David Zalubowski Associated Press JAMES OUTMAN is all smiles after homering in his first major league at-bat as he receives congratula­tions from Cody Bellinger. Outman was three for four and knocked in three runs overall.

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