Leiter ‘cool, calm’ for perfect MLB debut

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“In the moment, just trying to pitch and try to relax and play the game that I love and grew up playing,” Leiter said about the experience. “Trying to keep the game slow and not let a moment like that get too big and get the job done.”

Leiter’s father, Mark Leiter Sr., pitched with the Phillies from 1997-98. They became the second father-son duo to play for Philadelphia. They joined Ruben Amaro Sr. (1960-64) and Ruben Amaro Jr. (1992-93, 1996-98).

Leiter joined the Phillies on April 18, when the Phillies placed outfielder Howie Kendrick on the 10-day disabled list.

Then he waited for his opportunity to pitch.

“A lot of thoughts, a lot of emotions,” Leiter said about the 10-day wait from callup to debut. “I was just trying to keep myself ready for whenever I did get my chance. Just stay ready the best way I can.”

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin wanted to find a good spot to pitch Leiter. It just so happened the Phillies won seven of Leiter’s first eight games with the team, which meant Mackanin stuck with his experienced relievers. But with a three-run deficit Friday, Mackanin finally saw an opening for him.

“He pitched pretty well,” Mackanin said. “For his Major League debut, he was pretty cool, calm and collected. It was nice to see.”

Leiter got Yasmani Grandal to ground out to second on a 2-1 fastball for the first out. Chase Utley flied out to left on a 2-1 fastball for the second out and Cody Bellinger grounded out to first on a 2-1 fastball to end the inning. Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph flipped the ball to Leiter, who had to reach to make the grab before stepping on the bag.

Leiter grew up a Phillies fan in Toms River, N.J. He attended a game in each round of the 2008 postseason, when the Phillies won the World Series.

He got to see Utley at his best.

Then he got him out.

“It was cool,” Leiter said. “Growing up watching the Phillies, he contributed to a lot of great years. Any time you can face guys that you watched growing up and rooted for is a pretty cool feeling. That’s something you dream about.”

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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