CLEVELAND -- The Chicago White Sox's Andre Rienzo won’t just be pitching for himself and his team Tuesday night when he makes his major league debut.
The 25-year-old right-hander will be pitching for an entire country as well.
Rienzo will become the first player from Brazil to pitch in a major league game when he takes the mound against the Cleveland Indians. He was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to take the roster spot of Jake Peavy, who was moved back a day to help the White Sox work out a possible trade.
He won’t be the first person from Brazil to appear in a major league game, though. That honor goes to current Indians catcher Yan Gomes, who will bat ninth and face off against his countryman.
“It’s always exciting to get called up to the big leagues and this is no exception,” manager Robin Ventura said. “(Jose) Quintana was similar. He came in here and pitched and did well enough to stick around and now he’s in the rotation. You just let him be excited and go out and pitch. Most of it is you just want him to have fun. I don’t know if he’ll put pressure on himself but you want him to at least go out and enjoy it.”
Rienzo’s entire country will get a first-hand look as the White Sox-Indians game will be broadcast live on ESPN Brazil. The network will carry the White Sox’s feed of the game with Hawk Harrelson on play-by-play and Tom Paciorek as the color commentator. Steve Stone is out ill.
According to MLB’s international broadcasting department, there will not be Portuguese subtitles on the broadcast.
Luiz Filipe Tavares of Sao Paulo expressed his excitement via Twitter: “everyone here is psyched to see Rienzo start. Specially facing Yan Gomes. It's going to be an epic night for brazillian baseball.”
White Sox catcher Josh Phegley said Rienzo’s nerves are sure to be through the roof, and he should know since he made his major league debut on July 5.
“I remember how nervous I was on my first day,” Phegley said. “It’s going to be hard to go from telling him to just relax and throw your game. I’m going to be there and at least he’s comfortable with me behind the plate. I’ve caught him before. So that will be familiar for him.”
Phegley said Rienzo didn’t have the start he wanted at Triple-A Charlotte this season, but was coming on strong in early July.
“He’s a bulldog out there,” Phegley said. “He’s a perfectionist on the mound. He’s never satisfied basically without going perfect I guess. He doesn’t take it too far. He can’t expect to throw a perfect game every time. He just competes. He wants to throw his best pitch every pitch and he’ll give it to you.”
Rienzo fired a seven-inning no-hitter in his last start at Charlotte and gave up just 12 earned runs over his last 10 starts.
“He’s got a good fastball to both sides of the plate, a two-seamer and a four-seamer, good offspeed, good breaking stuff,” Phegley said. “I think he’s got a big sharp curve ball and a cutter/slider kind of thing. He’s effective. He throws them all for strikes. He’s going to be pretty good.”