Baseball - Tue, Apr. 7, 2009
San Diego, Calif. - With nerves likely playing a factor during his first few pitches, former Saint Xavier University relief pitcher Luke Gregerson (Lyons, Ill./Morton) settled down quickly and pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the San Diego Padres Monday night at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. Gregerson gave up a hit and a walk against the first two batters he faced, but then recorded back-to-back strikeouts before getting LA shortstop Rafael Furcal to line out to left field and end the inning. The outing got the attention of Padres' manager Bud Black.

"I got a pretty good feel for Luke and his poise and his calmness," said Black. "He's got a good head on his shoulders. He punched out Casey Blake. He punched out (Doug) Mientkiewicz and got a lazy line drive (from Furcal for the third out). He did good."

Although Black referred to Gregerson's "poise" and "calmness" on the mound Monday night, the 24-year-old righthander tells a slightly different story, especially considering the crowd of 45,496 was the largest in Petco Park's six-year history.

"I got a little shaky in the legs," said Gregerson. "I was hoping the catcher could call his pitches faster, because I felt like I was going to fall over."

Gregerson likely was not the only Padre battling nerves Monday as 10 of the 25 players on the team's active roster were playing in their first Opening Day as major leaguers. The Padres lost the opener, 4-1, but Gregerson proved Monday that he has the talent and ability to play at the game's highest level. He is a true "Major Leaguer."