With Opening Day weekend in the books, we can take a step back and take a glance at the historic events that took place over the first series of the 2021 season.
Yermín Mercedes took the baseball scene by storm the minute he stepped into the batter’s box on Opening Day. In his sophomore season in the league, the 28-year-old — who only had one at-bat in his major league career before the start of the 2021 season — recorded eight straight hits in his first eight at-bats of the season, a Major League Baseball record within baseball’s modern era.
Nope, not one out until his ninth at-bat of the season on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels in the top of the eighth inning when Yermín was retired via flyout.
“I never imagined that, doing eight straight hits in the majors,” Mercedes said following Saturday’s contest with the Angels. “Now, it’s a new day for me, I just want to keep doing the same thing I do every day and working with my approach. I want to play every day and I’m excited for that.”
8-FOR-8! MERCY! pic.twitter.com/SnU9KYTFIv
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 4, 2021
I know for a fact, a lot of us baseball fans were asking ourselves one question:
Where has Mercedes been all this time?
After spending eight seasons rummaging through the minor leagues with the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, and lastly the White Sox, Mercedes was itching for the chance to step into the batter’s box and display his keen talents on the field.
“I just want to cry,” Mercedes uttered with emotions after his 5-for-5 season debut on Friday, “It’s (been) a long time (coming) … I got a big history (in the minors), so it’s about time. But it’s hard for me because I just look around, and I’m so like ‘is it real? I’m here?’ Because I know a couple years ago I think (about) what I’m gonna do, what’s going to happen with me and I asked God ‘when am I going to be in the majors? What do I have to do?’ Because all the time, all my years I’m putting my numbers, putting the best of myself (out there). The time is now, the opportunity is now. Just keep working hard, keep the head up and trust in God.”
Mercedes was able to craft himself an impressive .302/.366/.491 slash line before stepping foot into the majors. According to reports, a subpar review criticizing his defense performances prevented his name from being tossed around when it came to landing a nod as one of MLB’s top prospects.
Yermín Mercedes Sr. knows his son is a fighter. No matter the adversities his son faced as the years in the minors mounted, he always told his son to never quit and never give up on the dream that has stuck with him since he was three years old.
“I remember those conversations,” Mercedes Sr. said while he reminisced on the difficult times his son nearly lost hope in himself. “As a father, you don’t let your child quit, you don’t let your child quit their dreams. As a father, I was supporting him, giving him advice, I was pushing him to follow his dreams.”
Mercedes, a native from La Romana, Dominican Republic — a city tucked aside the southeast coast of D.R. — was etched into the designated hitter slot in the first series of the season. The DH position will stand as Mercedes’ best chance to see day-to-day action.
With four games under his belt in 2021, Yermín sits marvelously with a .889/.889/1.44 slash line.
Despite dropping the Opening Day series 3-1 to the Angels, one question has been hoisted as we see Mercedes’ offensive talents come to fruition, can we look at the White Sox lineup — that includes players like A.L. MVP and Latino MVP José Abreu, Tim Anderson, Luis Roberts, Yasmandi Grandal and Mercedes — and foresee a new threatening core?
With three-time World Series manager Tony La Russa at the helm for the White Sox and a handful of talent, it is all a large possibility that the American League Central will remain a tight-knit division. The A.L. Central has become the division that has birthed a vast amount of high-ranked talent throughout the years. With Mercedes’ historic start to the 2021 season, you can only anticipate that a bright future lies ahead.
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