The Los Angeles Dodgers opened their season with an 8-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, which included James Outman among those making contributions.
The 25-year-old entered Spring Training fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster but initially on the outside looking in. However, Outman’s path opened up more when Gavin Lux suffered a torn ACL and LCL early in spring.
Outman was the most productive hitter on the Dodgers throughout the Cactus League, which continued a trend of his production with Triple-A Oklahoma City during the 2022 season and MLB debut.
Following a strong showing in Spring Training, the Dodgers had little to no choice, and Outman was named to the Opening Day roster.
Outman said he arrived at Dodger Stadium on Thursday early and described it as a “dream come true” before the game. He was given advice to just “soak it all in and have fun” with the experience that comes with your first Opening Day.
Along with looking to make the most of his first Opening Day, Outman was immediately inserted into the lineup, batting eighth and playing center field. However, he still had to get through the pregame ceremonies, which brought out some nerves.
“Definitely at the beginning,” answered Outman if any nervousness set in. “I couldn’t stay still when they were doing all the name announcements and stuff like that. Once the game started going I kind of settled in a little bit.”
Outman settled in quickly. In his first at-bat with the Dodgers trailing 2-0 in the third inning, he drew a walk before coming around to score on a two-run single by Will Smith that tied the game.
In the sixth inning, Outman, perhaps with the help of Rocka, gave the Dodgers some insurance by hitting a two-run home run that was his first at Dodger Stadium.
“It was cool,” Outman said about the homer. “The fans are awesome. It was awesome. It was a dream come true.”
Outman picked up his second hit of the game to lead off the eighth inning when he singled to right field and reached second base on an error. After he set the table, Rojas singled and Freddie Freeman walked to load the bases when Smith hit a sacrifice fly to add the eighth run of the game for the Dodgers.
Outman finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI.
“It was really fun to get the season going and start the season off with a win,” he said. “I think we’re all looking forward to this year.”
James Outman tried to remain calm when informed about Opening Day start
When Dodgers manager Dave Roberts informed Outman he would be starting, the skipper noticed his rookie outfielder had an even-keeled mood and kept chewing his gum, but it wasn’t for a lack of caring.
“I was definitely excited, but being nervous beforehand wasn’t going to help me out any,” Outman explained. “So just take the info, run with it, prepare myself and try to view it as objectively as possible, because when nerves start taking over, bad things happen sometimes.
“So just try to stay even-keeled and kind of use the nerves rather than let them take over.”
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